Tips for a successful job search

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As a VHA employee– and one of our newest staff– Humza Khan has firsthand experience as both a job interviewer and an interviewee. Humza was a college senior majoring in marketing in the summer of 2015, planning to graduate this May. He had internships with the Defense Commissary Agency and Northwestern Mutual and was considering a few others going into graduation. He was after something that would allow him to apply his degree, enhance his resume and help him transition into a full-time career in a meaningful position.

Humza found this opportunity on the VA Careers website and followed the application process from there. Read my Q&A with him below and get his inside take on researching and applying for a job with the government.

What’s a common mistake you see with job seekers?

Simply not applying to enough jobs. The more job applications you put in, the more your probability of getting hired increases. Recruiters won’t know you’re out there if you don’t submit your resume.

How many jobs should I apply for in a week?

An attainable goal is around five to seven job applications. But be sure to set a realistic pace for yourself. An average job application will take you around an hour to complete.

Do you have any specific tips for job seekers applying to VHA or other government agencies?

Patience and diligence. The federal government requires very detailed paperwork, which can take more time to complete. You should visit the Application Process section of the VA Careers site for some additional tips and info.

And the review can also take a little bit longer. I had about two months between the time of my first interview with VHA and my first day at work. If you are in the military or a college senior, I would recommend applying to jobs at least six months before your desired date of employment.

You use the phrase “your draft stock is directly proportional to your resume.” What do you mean?

You might be the perfect candidate for a job, but if you have a poor resume, your chances of scoring an interview drastically decline. That’s why it’s important to put out the best possible resume you can. I can’t emphasize enough how key this is.

 Remember that you shouldn’t try to fudge your work history with potential employers. Recruiters know that job applications come from a diverse background. If you had a sales associate job, don’t make it sound like you were the store manager. Recruiters look at hundreds of resumes a week, and the ability to smell deception is second nature to them.

Regardless of your career pursuits, I hope my experiences will help you find your dream job with VA. When you work here, you’ll have a comfortable salary, outstanding benefits and great work-life balance, just like the private sector. See all of your job options and Join VA.

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