As the single largest employer on the planet, with more than 3 million employees and responsibility for more than one half of the entire federal budget, the Department of Defense is a prime target of any exiting service member who wishes to continue to use their talents to defend our country.

The role of the Department of Defense is to oversee agencies responsible for national security and armed forces, which means it holds opportunity for a wide variety of people. It is, according to their own reports, the largest employer of veterans. It offers hiring preference to eligible veterans, and has made the hiring of veterans a top priority.

Led by the Secretary of Defense, claiming world-class benefits, competitive salary, progressive professional and personal growth opportunity and travel as some of the Department of Defense perks, employees are able to serve defense agencies such as the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Other agencies under the Department of Defense umbrella include the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the Missile Defense Agency and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

The Department of Defense also administers and operates the National Defense University (NDU) and the National War College (NWC).

President Harry S. Truman proposed the creation of a single, unified department of defense in 1945 in order to eliminate redundant and wasteful military spending and reduce conflict between departments.

This prompted a series of congressional deliberations about the executive office’s level of military power and the role of military in society. These discussions lasted for several months, until President Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947.

The National Security Act founded the National Military Establishment, created the CIA, National Security Council, National Security Resources Board, U.S. Air Force and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The National Military Establishment was under the authority of a single Secretary of Defense. James V. Forrestal was confirmed as the first Secretary of Defense.

In 1949, an amendment to the National Security Act of 1947 renamed the National Military Establishment as the Department of Defense. A little more than ten years later, the Department of Defense Reorganization Act streamlined channels of authority and established a central research authority, an organization eventually known as Defense Advanced Researched Projects Agency.

Today, the Department of Defense is the single largest veteran employer. In a unique partnership with the Department of Labor, the Department of Defense has developed the Transition Assistance Program to guide veterans as they move from military service into the civilian world. The Department of Defense created a web portal specifically for veterans seeking federal jobs – whether in national defense or other agency. As a veteran, certain hiring privileges may apply and help in your federal job search.

Veterans’ preference is a rule used within the Department of Defense as well as all federal government agencies. It is designed to acknowledge the sacrifices of Veterans, disabled veterans and even some of their family members by giving them special rights and privileges when seeking federal employment. Veterans’ preference does not guarantee a job for every application and does not apply to all Veterans, but it is a help to many.

The Department of Defense is well-known for providing accommodations to Veterans and other employees with disabilities. Some examples of such accommodations include physical changes to the workspace with the installation of a ramp or modification of a desk, hardware and software to make computers accessible if someone has difficulty using his hands or is visually impaired, training materials in alternative formats (online, audio tape, computer software), and technology to assist with telephone usage.

The first step in seeking employment with the Department of Defense is understanding how a federal resume is different from a civilian version. Whereas most civilian HR employees skim resumes and prefer they are one page long, a federal resume should be very detailed and include as many pages as necessary to document all of a person’s education, training, skills and experience. The resume should be written to match specific job requirements listed in a job descriptions, so always customize a general resume to the job before sending it to the agency for consideration.

The Department of Defense is currently seeking experienced candidates with linguistics, engineering, medical and financial backgrounds in particular. However, there is a vast array of jobs available for candidates with a wide variety of backgrounds. Whether you are a certified electrician or pipefitter, medical transcriptionist or attorney, there is likely a group that performs those functions within the Department of Defense.

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