Veterans and spouses of active-duty members have a leg up in competitive federal hiring process

Published Nov. 9, 2021

The search for a federal job and creation of a solid resume can easily be attained with a little preparation and training. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Justin Connaher)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is always looking for new and talented team members. If you are a military veteran or the spouse of an active-duty service member, you may have an advantage in the hiring process.

Military veterans who leave the service under honorable conditions after serving three or more years can receive preference over non-veteran applicants in the hiring process. With over 1,200 employees at the Omaha District, more than 350 employees are prior-service veterans, accounting for approximately 30% of the staff.

“Stay the course to get on board and don’t get discouraged,” said Emil Brown, a USACE administrative assistant who was hired with veteran’s preference. “It is very competitive because there are many veterans trying to join a variety of different federal agencies. I believe hiring officials know what a veteran brings to the table.”

Spouses and legally married partners of service members may also have a leg up in the hiring process. If married to an active-duty service member, someone rated 100% disabled because of a service-connected injury or is the widow/widower of a service member killed while on active duty, applicants may also be eligible for preferential selection in hiring.

“We’re working very hard when it comes to spousal employment—to make sure they have opportunities to keep their jobs or get jobs as they travel around.” said Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. James McConville during an Army senior leaders’ town hall meeting.

Even if found eligible, veteran and spousal preference is not a guarantee of employment within the federal government; applicants must still apply for the position and meet qualifications. Additional requirements, such as passing a background investigation, may need to be met as well. Visit the veterans and military spouses pages on USAJOB.GOV to learn about those requirements.

According to Clare Barner, USACE human resources specialist, eligibility isn’t always the biggest roadblock to employment; sometimes, it’s the applications themselves.

“[There are] lots of qualified people that don’t update their resumes or read the job announcements,” said Barner “They [the job announcements] state what is required. A lot of people don’t put their specialized experience or education on their resumes, even if they are already currently doing the job.”

Whether fresh out of college or mid-career, Barner notes that those applying for a non-engineering job don’t need to have a degree in engineering. Anyone with the required skills is welcome to apply for a position in one of Omaha District’s nearly 20 distinct career fields. This includes architects, realty specialists and biologists—there are even positions for Park Rangers.

Working for the federal government can be both challenging and rewarding but getting your foot in the door can be the hardest part, said Brown, and applicants can use their veteran and spousal preference to help increase their chances of getting hired.

“You earned that right, use it where you can,” said Brown.

To find out what positions the USACE is hiring for, visit

To see what the USACE Omaha District specifically is in need of, visit our careers page at or our LinkedIn page at


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