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Get ready for your VA career with these helpful tips

Get ready for your VA career with these helpful tips
Posted By: Sofía Montiel on March 18, 2024

At VA, we have jobs available all across the country for clinical professionals, in support roles, and on the administrative teams that keep our facilities running smoothly.

Whatever your degree, chances are there’s a place for you among those who care for Veterans, and whether you’ve just graduated or are looking forward to tossing your cap in the air sometime soon, now is the time to start your journey to a job at VA.

Build connections

While this is good advice for anyone looking for a job, it’s critical for recent and upcoming graduates to start networking as soon as possible.

In this day and age, it’s quick and easy to start networking right from the comfort of your dorm. Connect with people on LinkedIn, especially people who are in your chosen career field. You can ask them questions and learn about how they got their start at VA.

Also, don’t discount the old-fashioned, tried-and-true method of meeting people face to face. Yes, we live in a very virtual world, but there’s a lot to be said for being able to make a good first impression. Sharing a handshake may just be the thing to get a recruiter to consider you.

Look for job fairs or networking events hosted by your local VA. You can also combine the 2 methods of networking we’ve talked about here and reach out to your local VA’s human resources department to inquire about opportunities online or in person.

Better your resume

Whether you’re applying for your first job or your fifth, you’ll need a resume. Since it’s the first opportunity you’re going to have to really sell yourself to a hiring manager or recruiter, make it good.

For most of you, this might be easy. Your degree will define the skills you’ve acquired that make you a good candidate for the job you want. Transcripts, awards, and certifications can all show how you took advantage of your education to get career-ready.

Some of you may have a degree that isn’t aimed at a specific VA career. However, you probably have soft skills, like organization, communication, and work ethic. Maybe you have hard skills, like computer expertise, writing proficiency, or even a second language (which is a major bonus in a lot of federal jobs). All of these things are going strengthen your resume.

Volunteer experience, internships, and even hobbies can also be a source of experience that might just be the thing to put you a cut above other candidates. If it can reasonably be applied to any of the job requirements, make sure you include it in your resume.

Become a good interviewee

After your resume, the interview is the next time you’ll be able to sell yourself to a hiring manager. In fact, you can think of it as your resume getting your foot in the door, and now it’s time to blow the door off the hinges.

At VA, we use a performance-based interview (PBI) process. With these kinds of questions, we’ll present a scenario and ask you to tell us what you did in that instance. For example, we may ask you about explaining something to a patient, or how you dealt with conflicting priorities.

You can learn about our interview process—and even find a few sample questions—on our website , but the best advice we can offer is practice, practice, practice. Get comfortable with answering these kinds of questions in a clear, articulate manner and you’ll go a long way.

Be flexible

As you enter the job market, you may have a specific career in mind right out of the gate, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t focus on those opportunities as they become available. However, don’t discount the possibility that your first job may not be the exact job you want.

Taking a job that’s adjacent to what you want to do can be a great way to start a rewarding career. Sometimes, there are different roads to the same destination, so getting your foot in the door and gaining some valuable experience won’t be a wasted effort.

That first job can also give you access to our many employment benefits, including some student loan repayment options and continuing education scholarships to help ease your burden or make you a better candidate for the job you really want.

Work at VA

We wouldn’t be able to provide high-quality care for Veterans without professionals like you, who bring unmatched expertise and dedication to your calling.



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