Report: Agencies need pipeline of new hires

As agencies face a wave of retirements and the resulting loss of valuable workforce skills, they must take measures to ensure a sufficient pipeline of new hires in mission-critical positions — especially at the entry level, according to a new study by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

“Entry-level employees are the fundamental building blocks of that pipeline,” the report said.

MSPB researchers found, somewhat surprisingly, that most professional and administrative new hires at agencies are not young, inexperienced, recent college graduates. On the contrary, they are 33 years old, on average, and have at least one to five years of previous full-time work experience.

Researchers said agency recruitment and assessment practices partially explain the high average age. Those practices often favor older applicants with more experience. However, “good recruitment and assessment practices will identify the best candidate for the job based on relative ability, regardless of age and years of experience,” the report states.

Researchers found that new hires of all ages had a strong desire for job security and traditional benefits, such as health insurance, retirement and annual leave. Respondents said they were fairly interested in alternative benefits, such as teleworking and flexible work schedules.

New hires faced fewer impediments during the hiring process than might be expected, according to the report. For example, a substantial segment — 38 percent — were hired relatively quickly, in two months or less.

Researchers concluded that the government is more ably competing for new hires than it has in the past. However, agencies still need to improve recruitment, marketing and assessment practices to reach an even wider pool of quality applicants.

The report recommended the following steps to help agencies strengthen their hiring efforts:



  • Use more predictive applicant assessment tools, such as those that identify candidates with the skills and abilities necessary for the job and those that have a greater ability to predict future performance.

  • Use a balanced set of recruitment strategies that promote fair and open competition. Web postings are not enough.

  • Market what is important to applicants, including job security, good benefits, workplace flexibility and the ability to make a difference through public service.

  • Evaluate hiring processes to ensure that there are no unnecessary obstacles.

  • Avoid stereotyping applicants based on generational assumptions. Treat them as individuals with different needs, not simply as members of a generation.



The report also recommended that the Office of Personnel Management work with agencies to develop better assessment tools and create a governmentwide framework for streamlining hiring procedures.

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