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Tips for Job Seekers with Veterans' Preference Status

It shouldn't come as a surprise that looking for work can be a lot of work, especially if you haven't been in the job market for a while, if you are changing careers or if you are transitioning to a civilian job after having served in the military.  Here are some tips to make the job search less frustrating and more productive.

Do Some Research!

Find out what the hiring agency does – this lets you ask intelligent questions during an interview, and lets the employer know you are really interested in their job.  It can also help you decide if you really want to apply for the job.  State agency websites can be a good source of information.  Visit Kentucky.gov and insert the agency information listed in the advertisement into the search bar to find agency listings and links to their webpages. 

Here are some things you should consider before you apply to a vacancy:

              • What type of work is performed? What types of jobs are available?  There is no point applying for a job as a Forest Ranger Technician if you don't like being outdoors. 
              • Do you meet the minimum requirements listed in the vacancy?  In order to be eligible for consideration for appointment, applicants must meet the minimum requirements for the job classification including any education, experience and/or special licensing or certification requirements at the time they apply.  While some applicants go ahead and apply to jobs for which they knowingly don't meet the requirements, based on their own willingness to learn or be trained, they are not eligible for appointment and will be set to a rejected status should the hiring agency identify them for consideration.
              • What are the work hours?  If you don't want to work nights and weekends, you probably shouldn't apply for a job at a correctional facility.
              • Where is the job located?  Be sure you are able to begin work from the county listed in the vacancy each day.  While some state jobs require travel, the county location generally means where you would report to work each day. 
              • Does the description of job duties field state a preference for candidates with program-specific knowledge?  Do you have these preferred skills?  If you do not, you may not want to apply to the vacancy.  Otherwise, you may waste your time and resources if the agency selects you as one of the five veterans in which they are required to offer interviews, per KRS 18A.150.
              • Are you willing to start at the minimum of the salary range listed in the advertisement?  Although pay grades have a minimum and a mid-point established, due to budgetary constraints and other considerations, most state agencies are only able to offer a starting salary at the minimum of the pay grade for new appointees.
              • Show-up for scheduled interviews!  If you are offered an interview with the hiring agency and you accept, be prepared to go to the interview or cancel as far in advance as possible.  Failure to show for a scheduled interview reflects negatively upon you as a candidate and could diminish your chances for serious employment consideration when future vacancies become available within that agency; and as a result of being a 'no show' these hiring agencies may request that you be blocked from certification on registers for their specific job title/vacancy for a set amount of time. 

Get Squared Away!

Hiring agencies tell us that a lot of job applications are incomplete, confusing and downright hard to follow.  You don't want that first impression to be the wrong one, so take a minute to review these suggestions:

            • Follow instructions.  This can show the employer you will follow instructions on the job.  If you put your most recent employment history first, instead of at the end of the work history section, you will have an application that makes it difficult for a hiring manager to follow the progression of your career path.  
            • Tell the truth!  They may verify your information.  Falsifying information on an application can be grounds for dismissal if they discover you really don't have 10 years of experience driving a forklift or the education claimed.
            • Be detailed and fill in every field—especially in the work history section. One of the biggest obstacles to veterans looking for jobs is that it can be difficult for them to articulate their experience in terms of civilian positions.   The state application is longer than a typical private sector application because the merit system for employment is based on knowledge, skills and abilities (and duties and accomplishments) and therefore those need to be spelled out.  For instance, a state human resource specialist or hiring manager DOES want to know how many people you supervised, what your job duties were and the scope of work that you were performing.
            • Reread it.  Make sure you have answered all the questions, and that your answers are positive.  Check for typos and grammatical errors.  For example, using 'manger' instead of 'manager'. 
            • Salary Desired?  If you have done your homework, you'll have a good idea of what to put down. It is acceptable to say "negotiable," or "the normal starting pay for this position."  Don't price yourself out of the market by listing an unrealistic salary requirement unless you have a figure in mind that you cannot start below.
            • References?  The application has space for you to list three references.  Think of people with good credentials who would say positive things about you, and remember to get their permission first!  And just because a hiring agency doesn't ask, don't assume they won't do some type of reference check!
            • Submit the required documentation.  In order to be eligible for veterans' preference, the Personnel Cabinet must receive your documentation by the closing date of the job vacancy.  Once we receive your documentation, you will receive a confirmation email notifying you that you will receive veterans' preference from that point forward.

Résumés

The Career Opportunities System (COS) includes the ability for applicants to upload up to five résumés and cover letters.  However, it is the application that will be reviewed and not the résumé in order to determine if an applicant meets the minimum requirements for positions to which they have applied.   Applicants may send a copy of their cover letter and résumé directly to the contact listed in the vacancy announcement to express interest in an interview.   

Interviews

The hiring agency has 90 days to complete their selection process from the time they receive the list of eligible candidates who have applied to their vacancy.  This list is referred to as the register.  Kentucky's Veterans' Preference law, KRS 18A.150, requires agencies to offer a certain number of interviews to applicants who have this status.  This will depend on the number of candidates listed on the job register as officially designated by the Personnel Cabinet as having the preference. 

If there are more than five (5) applicants on the register identified as having Veterans' Preference, the hiring agency shall offer an interview to a minimum of five (5) individuals including current state employees.  However, it may offer interviews to more than five if it chooses.  Should there be fewer than five (5) candidates entitled to Veterans' Preference on the register, the hiring agency shall offer an interview to those individuals.   

It is important that you understand your role and responsibility in the application and selection processes.  Being offered an interview does not guarantee employment.  Veterans should be prepared, like all other candidates, to market their education, experience and skill sets throughout the résumé (optional), application and interview process.  To that end, if you are selected for interview, it is a courteous gesture to send the people who interview you a thank you note afterwards.

Veterans' assistance available!

If you have followed these tips and still are not successful in your job search for state employment, you may contact our Veterans' Advisor, Stuart Clark.  Stuart formerly served in the U.S. Army.  Among his many duties, Stuart helps veterans translate their military experience into civilian terms and navigate the application process.  Contact Stuart at 502.564.8030 or by email at stuartt.clark@ky.gov