Site surveys political jobs

Users can search for opportunities in the Obama administration by position, agency, state and category

Job applicants who dream of snagging one of the thousands of politically appointed jobs in the administration of President-elect Barack Obama can visit a Web site to target their search by various descriptions and learn more about how the federal government operates.

For job seekers, it can be an exciting yet overwhelming opportunity. To help, Avue Technologies  launched a Web site, www.transitionjobs.us, to ease the transition and answer some questions potential feds might have about the application process.

Avue posted the 2008 Plum Book on the site after the Nov. 4 election. The book lists about 7,000 politically appointed positions that the new administration will need to fill, said Linda Rix, co-chief executive officer of Avue.

The Plum Book is traditionally organized by agency, but on Avue’s site, job seekers can search by agency, state or affinity group, such as technology or accounting, she said.

Are you looking for a job in Virginia? Click on the state on a map on the site, and you’ll get a list of available jobs. Do you want to know what technology jobs are available nationwide? Search under technology, and you’ll get a list of jobs at various agencies.

And there is a wide range of positions from which to choose. Politically appointed jobs are not only at the highest levels of government. They range from those that require Senate approval to GS-9 jobs, which do not require approval.

“One of things that I like about the map is [it shows] how many jobs are not in D.C.,” Rix said. “I think members of Congress would be interested in how many jobs are in their state and district.”

The site will also provide applications for download and track whether jobs have been filled.

If you’re not sure you’re cut out for life as a political appointee or just want to learn more about it, you can learn about the hiring process under the Resources tab. The page lists potential obstacles to landing a plum job and provides a primer on what happens during a presidential transition and plain-English definitions of government lingo.

Under the Insights tab, you can learn about the federal budget process, executive branch, and difference between running for office and running the government. Registered users will receive e-mail updates related to transition jobs.

The government primers are an important part of what the site offers, said Ira Hobbs, former chief information officer at the Treasury Department and a member of Avue’s Advisory Board.

“Understanding how government works is different from what you learned in civics class,” Hobbs said. “How many people knew the role and impact of Freddie [Mac] and Fannie [Mae] and the Federal Reserve before this current financial” crisis struck?

The site’s value is its role as “the first step in a social-network context where a lot of people can get similar information,” Hobbs said. In the past,  résumés were stuffed into cardboard boxes and sifted through by hand. An online process offers efficiency and transparency, he added.

The site “also demonstrates that people are going to be getting a lot of information that isn’t going to be coming from the government… but from a private-sector company,” Hobbs said. “It’s the power of the era and the knowledge and availability of [information technology]. People start redefining government” in ways that make it easier to understand.

Rix said she is interested in talking with Obama’s transition team about using the site as part of its hiring process for political appointees.

“We want to introduce them to a technology solution early in the process so they don’t end up mired in a paper mill,” Rix said. “We want them to turn people on to this solution becaus e 7,000 is a lot of jobs.”

If the new administration adopts the site for its transition hiring, Avue could offer additional services, Rix said. For example, it could show how many people viewed a job application, how many applied and how many qualified job applicants are available.

“I think the administration will have the opportunity to have a very consolidated point where all that data resides,” Rix said. “They can look up [information] 24/7 and know where they stand.”

Colleen O’Hara is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Va.

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