FCW Forum | Reader’s Corner

More flak about federal hiring

Readers highlight more problems with the federal hiring process

A recent article on FCW.com highlighted “8 reasons why the government hiring process doesn’t work,” drawing on reader comments we received in response to an earlier article. As is often the case, the comments begot more comments. Here is a roundup of the latest reader feedback.

  • "I think it's funny that the application process itself didn't make the list of why the government hiring process doesn't work. The government frequently requires an applicant to supply extremely detailed information usually not found on a professional résumé: long essays, writing samples, and certification of educational and professional facts that occurred long ago. They require all of this information upfront, whether or not you have a snowball's chance in Hades of getting the job. A lot of good potential employees just couldn't be bothered with such a lopsided process. The government probably needs the information, but only from final-round candidates."
    — Anonymous
  • "Résumé padding and outright lying are rampant. I now carefully craft my '20 questions' with essay questions to match critical yes/no or multiple choice questions. Then, if a candidate's résumé or essay questions don't support their other answers, I get them thrown out. Even with all that extra work and reference checking, I've hired some astounding liars. 'Background checks' are a complete joke. In one case, the background check for a new hire was completed after their probationary period and showed serious flaws that would have disqualified the person."
    — Sandy
  • "When the hiring manager tells you that you must lie to get past the automated/HR part of the system, you know there is something wrong. You must pick the optimum answer to each question and answer that way to score high enough to beat out the other people who overinflate their qualifications. I was told that once the résumés get to the hiring manager, 90 percent shouldn't even be holding a job in IT."
    — Anonymous
  •  "It took me three solid years of diligently applying [for a government job], and I endured most of what people seem to crab about (particularly the 'fix is in' aspect). But I kept at it for my own reasons, and I'm in a job I love doing good work. It's true, that 'good government job' isn't going to walk up and grab you, but they are out there. Better feedback and shorter turnaround would fix most of the problem."
    — Nowaguvvie
  • "The amount of time wasted applying for positions that do not really exist — someone is slated for the job, but regulations say you have to advertise it — is incredible. How many people slave over that application? And then, after the selection is made with no interviews, start applying for the next position that is advertised? This is not just an IT problem, this is a governmentwide problem."
    — Anonymous
  • "I was asked to interview for a government position and to provide pay information to 'verify employability.' Then the government representative went back to my company to harass them about the difference between my pay and the contract amount. That just is unethical to use a ruse to try to finesse contracting issues."
    — Anonymous

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Reader comments

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 Erich Darr

In IT we need to know the specific experience the applicant has up front. There may not be time or funds to train a programmer once they're on board before they're put on a project. The manager may not be astute enough to put the specific job requirements into the announcement or a standard announcement may be used. Some agencies don't train managers in how to put together an announcement. Private companies can advertise the specific experience they need. So you don't need to waste your time applying for a job you don't qualify for.

Fri, Oct 9, 2009 She E. Rockville, MD

Mr. John Fitzgerald, I hear your pain sir. And it saddens me to know that you were rejected from the military service...because that's what it sounds like to me! You are hating on people that you cannot compete against. I agree not all Vets are the best of the best, but most are. I am a 22 yr retired Navy hospital corpsman who has seen my share of sorry and pain while attending to my brothers and sisters in arms. But you wouldn't know much about that now, would you? You speak about Vets having store brought degrees, well let me remind you about the many federal employees who were caught who lied about having a degree, or got them off the internet from a degree mill-house (fake). If your agency is limited to only hiring veterans then maybe it's because their credentials can be validated; now that's a thought. Don't compare the degree, compare the individual standing in front of you, and frankly, who cares what you had to go through when you went through college. College is suppose to be hard, or did you not know that? I think I just realized what your problem may be about Vets; their college degrees were paid for by Uncle Sam, or for you civilians, the United States Government, and you are probably in dept up to your eyeballs. Well that's right Uncle Sam paid for my undergraduate degree from Georgetown and Old Dominion University, and my graduate degree from the University of Maryland and now as a civilian they are paying for my doctorate program at the U of Maryland too. Don't be a hater, just learn how to play the game! If you are so appose to hiring Vets, then my advise to you is to go to another agency where you think Vets don't matter...and please let me know how that's working out for you! BTW...if you don't know military lingo then don't try to wing it..SGT Bonehead Regards, Retired Navy Veteran

Wed, Oct 7, 2009 Virginia Area

If FCW and its sister publications were to provide "cover" for those commenting, they might have a real story here with agencies and individuals who are ignoring the OPM mandates. You ask for an optional Name and an Optional email from the commenter. You do not say whether you will print the name or the email. You might get even more information if the contributing commenter were provided the aforementioned "air cover" as the Government attempts to do with the "Whistle-blower" Act. You need to remember that these people are trying to get a job in the Government and information resulting from these comments might result in the blackballing of the individual.

Wed, Oct 7, 2009

There are a lot of "games" managers can play to hire the person they want in a position. Couple of tips to those outside gov't who do not know how the "game" is played. Check out publications on getting a Federal job- www.jist.com has some good ones. If a job is open for a very short time, it is likely it is intended as a promotion for a current employee the manager favors. It will also be likely listed on many registers, and if you do not submit an application to each of them, you can be eliminated by the manager selecting one you are not on. Since application deadlines are often short, having a core Federal resume ready to customize for the type position or positions you seek is very handy. Re-visit this ready to go resume and update it regularly. Get to know the people who hire for the positions you are interested in. Join community and professional organizations they are active in. Mangers prefer to hire people known to them by reputation in the field or from positive personal contacts. Vets do have preference(and rightly so) but are not hired solely on vet status, you have a chance if your qualifications are clearly superior. If you are similar or equal in qualifications, the points awarded the veteran will put them over you. If you want this advantage for yourself enlist and become a vet- they more than earn the preference they are given. I'm a vet in a gov't job and I've competed both successfully and unsuccessfully for more than a few other Federal jobs and have had non-vets selected over me quite a few times. There are flaws in the system, but those who take the trouble to learn how to put together a quality application usually get hired. It does take effort and perseverance. Good luck!

Wed, Oct 7, 2009

One of the problems leading to all of these complaints is the promotion system is broken. If I want to promote an employee because the work has become more complex, they're qualified, etc., I can't. I have to advertise the position as if I was doing a new hire. From the outside, it looks like the fix was in because it wasn't seen as a promotion. In an ideal world, it may be that the best qualified person should get the job but how do you quantify the corporate knowledge the existing employee brings to the job. It's not a black and white situation.

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