Are you thinking about applying to VA for a job in healthcare? If so, you know there’s a fair amount of competition. How can you make your VA healthcare application stand out from the crowd?

Although the application process is intensive, it doesn’t have to be intimidating. We’ve got plenty of resources to walk you through the process.

First, use the VA Careers homepage keyword search function to look for available opportunities on USAJOBS. After you’ve selected the job opportunity that interests you, check out these five tips before you apply:

  1. Get specific.

Getting specific means understanding your KSAs: knowledge, skills and abilities. Unique to each position, KSAs are used to distinguish between qualified and unqualified candidates. The closer your skills and experiences match the job’s KSA requirements, the better suited you are for the position. And that connection draws attention to your application.

Highlight KSAs by providing specifics that illustrate your value as a potential employee and what makes you unique compared to other applicants.

For instance, consider incorporating skills that may not seem healthcare-related but that are important for dealing with patients and co-workers. Do you speak another language? Have you worked in challenging settings? Descriptions that demonstrate your ability to manage stress, provide great customer service and communicate well are a plus.

Part of being specific is also knowing which job duties should be edited out of an application. A common task like “filled out paperwork” could be replaced with a project you worked on, a crisis you managed successfully, or software and tools you’ve used.

Also, avoid listing acronyms that recruiters might not know or recognize. If you feel it’s an important differentiator, be sure to spell it out and explain its significance.

  1. Use active voice.

Action words and bullet points help busy reviewers skim your application. Another pro-tip: Drop the “I” from your descriptions! List skills this way:

  • Coordinated patient care delivery at a hospital serving 5,000 customers.
  • Trained 1,000 nurses in a new procedure.
  • Reorganized product delivery logistics, which reduced waste and saved $10,000.

Remember to adjust the tense of your verbs — describe your current role in present tense and previously held jobs in past tense.

  1. Highlight accomplishments.

Like any employer, VA wants to understand what you did in your previous job. But what really piques the interest of hiring officials is a description of what you achieved or accomplished in each role. Take a look at the following examples:

  1. Responsible for five-person team.
  2. Oversaw a five-person team responsible for 50 patient visits per month and trained each team member on how to implement the new electronic health record system.

Sentence B outlines the task — overseeing a team and updating records — and highlights your management, technical and training skills.

  1. List awards, certifications, memberships and military service.

Were your honored for your hard work? Did you join an office improvement committee? Are you board-certified or a member of a professional organization (e.g., the American Nurses Association)? Are you in the military or a Veteran? Don’t forget to include these items in your application (and check out VA’s hiring preferences for Veterans).

Also, be sure to include a list of classes and licenses relevant to the job you’re applying for — they show your commitment to improvement, which can continue at VA after you’re hired.

  1. Use keywords.

Recruiters and human resource departments typically scan applications and resumes for keywords found in the original job listing. Break through the filters by incorporating words and phrases that match those used in the job description. Industry-specific keywords like “clinical” and “patient care” are good general terms to include in a healthcare resume. An orthopedic surgeon, for example, might want to include terms like “specialty,” “board certified” and “ortho trauma.” Be sure to refer to the job description for more ideas.

Choose VA today 

Ready to choose VA for your healthcare career? Master these five tips and apply today.

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Published on Aug. 15, 2019

Estimated reading time is 3.4 min.

Views to date: 389


  1. Glenn Walke September 12, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    I really like the tip that you gave to highlight your accomplishments when you are applying for a healthcare job. My brother wants to find a new job in the health field, and I want to help him get it if I can. I will be sure to talk to him about highlighting his accomplishments, so he could stand out from the rest of the applications.

  2. Arnold Cabral August 16, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Veterans who read this not work Federal government’s or works at a Veterans Medical Centers can you please email your Senators or Representative contract Veterans Affairs Committee passed a new Benefit for Disabled Veterans who is percent is 100 service connected needs a Dentist know how to put in G4 implants for free because their absolutely not one works at a Veterans Medical Centers and don’t have a contract with the Veterans Affairs Administration and if a Disabled Veterans who is 100 service connected don’t get the G4 implants it would cause bad Health Care plus it cause bad gums disease also it could Cancer…..Thanks for the Support and Stay Healthy and your Family Don’t Surrender Semper Fi.

  3. Humidificateur d'Air August 16, 2019 at 6:22 am

    Thank you for these valuable advices. It is not always easy to find your way around with all these steps.

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