How far out should you apply for a federal job?

If you are separating or retiring from the military, you might wonder when you should start applying for federal positions. The human resources offices will accept your Statement of Service document which will give a date for your separation or retirement. This is a critical document that you can get from your Command administrative officer. You can use this in your USAJOBS account until you get the DD 214.


1 year out: Work on your resume with your transition center; take a TAP class or a Ten Steps to a Federal Resume Writing class at your center. Look for positions early, so that you can focus your resume.

8 months out: Set up your USAJOBS account and other online job board accounts.

8 months out: Set up an appointment with a transition or employment or education counselor to consider education, training or employment as your next step after the military.  (or both)

6 months out: Start applying for positions, so that you can get some feedback and results. You might get the results of Out of the Area of Consideration because of your timing. It’s okay, just apply again later on when you are within 120 days out.

4 months out: This is serious. It’s time to apply for positions every day, every week. I recommend that you track and follow up in your USAJOBS account to see your resumes. Hopefully you are getting Best Qualified and Referred to the supervisor.

STATEMENT OF SERVICE RULES – and 120 day notice for applications for federal jobs

Each agency has a different rule about accepting military federal applications. Many are going with the 120 day out rule. I found these instructions under the DOCUMENTS section in the announcements.

Air Force Personnel Center Instructions:
Randolph AFB, TX

IF APPLICABLE:  Military service member’s “Statement of Service” will be accepted up to 120 days prior to separation date IF a terminal leave form or DD214 cannot be provided.  The “Statement of Service” must be signed by, or by direction of, the adjutant, personnel officer, or commander of your unit or higher headquarters and must indicate when your terminal leave will begin, your rank, dates of active duty service, the Type of Discharge and Character of Service (i.e. honorable).

US Navy Civilian Positions:

This document recommends the Statement of Service, but doesn’t mention the 120 days.

Army Civilian Jobs Instructions / Required document:

  • If you are currently serving on active duty: You MUST submit a certification from the armed forces that certifies the service member is expected to be discharged or released from active duty service in the armed forces under honorable conditions not later than 120 days after the date the certification is signed. If you supply a certification at this stage, your preference/eligibility will be verified prior to appointment.   For more information about Veteran’s Preference, please click this link:   Please upload veteran’s documents under the appropriate category. If you fail to provide these documents, you will be marked as having an incomplete application package and will not be considered any further.
Posted in Blog, Federal Job Search, Federal Resume Writing, USAJOBS, Veteran Federal Jobs
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2 comments on “How far out should you apply for a federal job?
  1. Good way of explaining, and pleasant piece of writing to get data about my presentation subject matter,
    which i am going to convey in school.

    • Some veterans start applying for federal jobs one year out, and that’s a little far. It’s better to wait and some announcements say clearly that you have to be 120 days out from separating or retiring. Good luck with your next career move. Kathryn

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