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Understanding Vacancy Announcements for Job Openings

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Application Process

Understanding VA Vacancy

Vacancy announcements provide a wealth of information to potential applicants about positions being advertised. While they might look different from federal agency to federal agency, the content should be similar. Click on the following items for an explanation of the types of information that will be included in the vacancy announcements:

Position Title

This area provides the official position title for the position being advertised. Sometimes similar positions can have different position titles so it's important that you read the duty statements and qualification requirements in vacancy announcements.

Series and Grade

This section explains information on the occupational series used in the Federal Government for positions and the grade level that has been assigned to the position. All positions in the Federal Government have a position title and a four-digit occupational series number. All similar positions are grouped according to their occupational series. For example, all secretary positions are in the 0318 occupational series, and all information technology specialist positions are in the 2210 occupational series. Therefore, as you start looking for possible positions in the Federal Government you should pay close attention to the position title and occupational series of positions you are interested in and look for other positions in that occupational series.

Salary Range

Here, you can locate information on the range of salaries for the grades of the position being advertised. For example, if the position is announced as GS-11/12, you will see the salary range for both the GS-11 and GS-12 grade level.

Promotion Potential

This section indicates the highest-grade level for the position being advertised. Employees competing for jobs with promotion potential may be promoted to the higher levels without having to compete for promotions. Promotions are not entitlements; employees must be performing at the next higher grade level to earn a promotion to that level.

Type of Appointment

This area of the announcement indicates whether the position is permanent or temporary, and whether it is full-time or part-time.

Location of Position

This section provides the name of the location, city, and state where the position is located.

Announcement Number

Each position has a different announcement number, and you should always indicate the announcement number on the application you are submitting. If you are submitting documents separately from your application, be sure to write the announcement number on them so that they can be matched to the correct case file.

Opening and Closing Dates

Every vacancy announcement has an opening and closing date. The vacancy announcement will indicate whether the application must be to the contact person by the closing date, or if postmarked or other received date applications will be accepted. You should pay close attention to the closing date. If your application is late you will probably be excluded from consideration.

Area of Consideration

This item indicates the area from which applications will be accepted. For example, if the area of consideration is:
  • "All U.S. citizens"—all U.S. citizens are eligible to apply
  • "All U.S. citizens in the local commuting area"—only U.S. citizens in the local area considered
  • "Status applicants only"—in the local commuting area or nationwide, only current federal employees may apply
  • "VA employees only"—only current VA employees may apply


This section describes the main duties and responsibilities for the position being advertised.


The main qualifications and requirements for the position are advertised here. In this section you’ll find information about education and experience requirements. You will see KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities) expressed in this section in terms of "Specialized Experience" and in some instances as "Selective Factors."

Application Information

This lists what must be included in your application package for you to be eligible for consideration. Failure to submit required information may result in your not being considered for a position.

Other Important Information

This section provides other information related to the application process and Federal hiring rules and regulations.

Contact Information

This is where you can find information on where and how your application can be submitted. This section also provides contact information that can be used if you have a question about the position or your application.
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