FORT BELVOIR, Va., April 11, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Veterans looking for their first federal job can face a sometimes daunting process, but the Defense Logistics Agency has multiple approaches available for them to find a way to continue serving.
The Defense Logistics Agency has more than 8,700 veterans among its civilian employees and hired more than 1,300 of them in 2010 alone. Hettie Holmes-Carter, program manager for corporate recruitment in DLA Human Resources' Human Capital Program Development Branch, said veterans' experience and their innate understanding of what the agency does makes them attractive recruits.
"Usually, veterans have the experience required for many DLA positions. They are dedicated employees and are familiar with the DLA mission," she said. "With the experience they've had in the military, they are usually ready, willing and eager to work when they come on board and there isn't as long of a training period."
Veterans who would like to work for DLA can pursue multiple avenues, Holmes-Carter said. In addition to the typical veterans hiring authorities put in place by the federal government, the agency uses multiple internship programs to reach out to veterans. One, Operation Warfighter, gives wounded warriors a chance to obtain federal work experience while they are rehabilitating. The program is open whether they are planning to leave military service or not.
"They come in, get work experience and may possibly be hired once they finish the program if we have a position," she said. "However, there's no obligation to hire. Some of the service members just use the internship to obtain experience while they're waiting to return to active duty."
Operation Warfighter is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to internship opportunities at DLA, Holmes-Carter said. There are non-paid work experience and on-the-job training opportunities sponsored by the Department of Veteran Affairs. In addition, DLA has a two-year corporate intern program. Participants enter the program at the GS-7 level and are targeted to the GS-11 level upon successful completion of the program.
"It's a win-win situation, because veterans learn about DLA and what we do and they get federal work experience," she said. "For us, we have the opportunity of placing them, working with them, giving them experience, and if we have jobs, we can bring them on using a noncompetitive hiring authority."
One problem many veterans face when applying for federal jobs in general and DLA jobs in particular is properly translating valuable military experience into terms the average human resources specialist understands, said Kathy Harder Martin, a human resources specialist with DLA Human Resources Services. This can lead to a strong resume being overlooked.
"Normally, their level of responsibility is tremendous. They've been responsible for millions of dollars' worth of equipment, but they cut themselves short," she said. "One thing they have to be conscious of is that some of the terms they used in the military may not be familiar to a civilian human resources specialist. When they write that resume, they have to make sure that human resources specialist is going to understand that level of responsibility and use terms that he would understand."
Martin said it is important for veterans looking for federal employment to start early. Some job announcements are only open for a few days, and if veterans have not prepared ahead of time, they may not have the time needed to complete an application. Because setting up an account and resume with USAJobs, the website most government agencies use to announce vacancies, can be time consuming, Martin said doing the homework ahead of time makes it far easier when it comes time to actually apply for a job.
"The system they have to use is a challenge when they're first starting out. I always recommend that they go now to USAJobs, establish an account, and build a resume, so when they find that dream job, they have a foundation they've established," she said. "Then they can just tweak their resume so it applies to a specific vacancy. Some of our positions are going to have a lot of applicants, so we only have them open for three days. If you've just found that and you only have one day and don't have a resume established, you're under a time crunch to get it done."
Another reason it's important to have a resume and account set up before hearing about a particular job is that it makes it easier to tweak a resume for a given job, Martin said. Service members typically go far beyond their normal duties and may not have a particular task listed in a resume that they performed numerous times.
"You have to look closely at what they're looking for [in the vacancy announcement]," she said. "Read the major duty statement. What is being asked in the questionnaire [at the View Assessment Questions link]. Look closely at the questions. What is it they're looking for? What do they want to know about you? Go back to your resume.
"If you have the experience or education in performing those tasks, then you need to include that in your resume," she continued. "The human resources specialist will be reviewing these items to determine whether the answers are supported by the resume."
Any veteran applying for a job needs to make sure he has the appropriate paperwork easily accessible. A Defense Department Form 214, which establishes past military service, is required for any applicant declaring veteran's preference in the hiring process, and a VA letter establishing military disability is required for anyone seeking that preference.
"They must always submit supporting documentation identified in the vacancy announcement, otherwise, the application packet will be considered incomplete and won't even be looked at," Martin said.
While the federal hiring process can seem daunting to someone using it for the first time, there is always someone who can help when an applicant applies to DLA, Martin said.
"One thing I've always pointed out to people is there's always a phone number in the 'Questions About This Job' section of vacancy announcements," she said. "If applicants don't understand something in the major duty statement or how to equate it to what they did in the military, they should call that human resources specialist. In essence, they're our customers … we want to get the best qualified person in that vacancy for that selecting official."
As a Department of Defense combat support agency, DLA provides the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, other federal agencies, and joint and allied forces with a variety of logistics, acquisition and technical services. The agency sources and provides nearly 100 percent of the consumable items America's military forces need to operate, from food, fuel and energy, to uniforms, medical supplies, and construction and barrier equipment. DLA also supplies more than 80 percent of the military's spare parts.
Headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va., DLA has about 27,000 employees worldwide and supports about 1,900 weapon systems. For more information about DLA, go to www.dla.mil, www.facebook.com/dla.mil or http://twitter.com/dlamil.
SOURCE Defense Logistics Agency