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Leap into a VA career this year with our application guide

With Leap Day looming, what are you going to do with your bonus day? After all, it’s only once every 4 years this opportunity comes along, so why not take advantage of it and finish that application you’ve been meaning to submit?

Not sure where to start, or wondering if you have everything you need to apply? Run through our VA application checklist and make sure everything is in order.

Have you read the job announcement?

There’s a lot of material to cover in the job announcements you find on USAJOBS, so it’s critical to examine the details in the “Overview” section on the right-hand side of the announcement. That’s where you’ll find important information like application deadlines, pay scales, locations, telework eligibility, and more.

Bottom line: read the job announcement thoroughly, then read it again. All those details are there for a reason—so you know what we expect, and so we can judge everyone who applied by the same criteria. Very few questions are not answered somewhere in the job announcement, so take another look.

Is your resume ready?

The job announcement will also provide information about the job’s requirements, which will shape how you present your resume. In addition to listing your previous employers and positions, your resume should outline the work you did at each job, and how that work directly corresponds to the position to which you are applying.

That doesn’t mean that you should copy and paste key words or descriptions. What you should do is use the information you find on USAJOBS to introduce key themes and carefully employ specific keywords that match the criteria you find in the announcement.

Have you written a cover letter?

While a resume is an exploration of what you have done, a cover letter is your chance to explain what you’ll do when you get the job. Don’t give the hiring manager information they already have—give them something new, something that gives them a sense of your personality and your goals.

Once again, refer back to the job announcement. Review the job duties and requirements, as well as any “preferred qualifications” or “how you will be evaluated” lists, which can be a gold mine of information for applicants. Use those listings to pinpoint things you can discuss in your cover letter that aren’t included in your resume.

Are your references in order?

While you may not have to provide references with your resume, there’s arguably no reason not to do so. In fact, providing your references up front makes the process easier for both you and the recruiter or hiring manager.

When choosing references, start with any current and former supervisors. These will be the people who have the most experience with you and how you work. Knowledgeable coworkers who can speak well about your expertise will give you a leg up, too, but the hiring panels reviewing your application may weigh supervisors more heavily.

Did you proofread?

While you may want to get your application in as soon as possible, that missing period or misspelled word can cost you a chance at a great job.

Take the time to review your application and all your supporting documents, word for word. Make sure you’re saying what you mean to say, and make sure that you’re using those keywords we talked about above.

Check your grammar and your punctuation. Read it out loud, read it backwards, but read it until you know what you want on the page is there. Then have someone else read it, just to be sure.

Work at VA

Leap Day only happens once every 4 years, but you can apply to VA any day. Get your application in now and start on the path towards a meaningful career serving Veterans.

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