Fed job notices earn poor marks

Federal agencies still don’t have it right when it comes to creating effective job vacancy announcements, according to a new study by the Merit Systems Protection Board.

In 2005, the board analyzed a random selection of vacancy announcements posted on the USAJobs Web site. Reviewers said only a third of the notices showed any effort to describe the job vacancy or the agency in a way that would entice people to apply.

In addition, they found that some agencies continue to use negative or unfriendly language. In their report on the study, the reviewers were critical of vacancy announcements containing statements such as: “DO NOT contact our office asking if your application has been received. We will not provide verification of application receipt.”

They also found numerous examples of confusing statements in job notices. One agency advised job seekers to submit a separate application for each location in which they were interested, even though the announcement listed only one vacancy at one location.

In recommending improvements to the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees the USAJobs site, the board said many agencies fail to take advantage of the Web site’s technical capabilities. It advised OPM to help agencies eliminate page numbers in online announcements and other vestiges of the paper world.

The board also urged agencies to use hyperlinks to direct applicants to government forms rather than including such forms in the text of their announcements.

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