EH Rice

Marco stated that many agencies use a word match system. Well, they used to but not anymore with the advent of USA Staffing (this was a new system that was mandated that all agencies transition to, with about 80% having done so). You rate yourself as to your skills, abilities, and knowledge (though they call them competencies, or will if they aren’t). An HR specialist will review the online application to ensure it is supported by your resume (and all the documents required, this is a must, no transcript, licenses, etc., they don’t even look at you). And, the Federal Government systems are all designed to rate experience higher than education (except for the scientific research demonstration projects that work under their own rules…but we are talking about Phd’s that have specialized education and skills in a very narrow specialized area that the research is being conducted ). For the VA, when they advertise for social workers, they get hundreds of applications. Since the VA pays social worker way more than the private sector does, it seems every social worker with a MSW applies, so the competition is extremely tough. I remember advertising one in a rural Midwest area, and every MSW in a 5 state are applied, or so it seemed. Additionally, you MUST have hospital/clinical experience to get hired. Just a MSW will not get it. You must be a LCSW-C, and done a “residence” in a clinical setting (preferaly in a VA hospital if you are applying at the VA). Best advice is to keep working at it, get the clinical certifications and experience, and keep updating your resume. Likewise, mobility may be needed to get a foot inside the door. Regretably, where you are looking has limited opportunities as far as the VA goes, unless you want to work at the VAMC in DC.