I was deemed “highly qualified” for nearly every position I applied for, and yet it seems veterans were selected over me. Is there any way I can increase my qualifications or ranking so that I can compete with veterans in the advanced selection process?

Unfortunately, no. Qualification requirements must be developed based on the position, series and grade announced. Agencies must develop these requirements before the announcement opens, and agencies are prohibited from requiring more than what is necessary to do the job from applicants. Agencies are also not allowed to compare applicants against one another; they are only allowed to compare applicants against the requirements.

In simple terms, qualified veterans are essentially referred ahead of non-veterans or non-preference eligibles. Selecting officials may not bypass qualified veterans over non-veterans, unless the referred veteran(s) are selected, withdraw from competition, or in rare cases a pass over is granted.

“Category Rating” is used for positions advertised under Delegated Examining procedures (open to all U.S. citizens to apply). Under Category Rating, applicants are placed into groups (Best Qualified, Well Qualified and Qualified) based on the contents of their application. Veterans with a disability of 10 percent or more are placed at the top of the highest category on the referral list (except for scientific or professional positions at the GS-9 level or higher) if they meet minimum qualifications. Veterans’ preference does not apply to positions that are covered by a Direct Hire Authority (DHA). If a position is covered by a DHA, it will be stated in the announcement.

ATF receives a lot of highly qualified veteran applicants for most all 1800, clerical and administrative positions. It can be very challenging to get referred to the hiring manager(s), if you are a non-veteran applying to those positions at ATF that are open to the public, but we encourage you to continue to apply.

Last Reviewed February 29, 2024