Applying for federal jobs may get easier

Feds hope streamlined processes, more job flexibility will lure younger workers

The cumbersome process of landing a job with the federal government will soon become a little easier, the director of the Office of Personnel Management said today.

Speaking at the Interagency Resource Management Conference in Cambridge, Md., OPM Director John Berry said a number of efforts are underway to streamline the federal job application process.

As part of extensive federal hiring reform, qualified potential employees could be placed in pools that would allow candidates who have already cleared a rigorous screening process to more easily apply for government jobs with multiple agencies, he said. “For example, if there are extra qualified accountants for the Air Force, they could be [placed] in a pool that would make them [accessible candidates] for the Navy or Marine Corps,” Berry said, adding that making the changes would likely involve new legislation. Currently, such employment applications would have to be filed separately, a notoriously long and repetitive process.

Long the bane of government job applicants, the much-maligned Knowledge, Skills and Abilities essays could be phased out as an initial screening tool, according to Berry. That statement drew a cheer from a room full of conference attendees.

“Why make thousands of applicants write essays to apply for a job where you only have two openings?” Berry said.

In addition, the government’s online “help wanted” classified ads on USAjobs.gov, has been cleaned up and features an easier, Google-based format and new resume-loading capabilities, he added.

Berry also called for more flexibility and creativity in hiring and recruiting, and argued against the idea of capturing a worker in the federal government until retirement. “Employees should be able to move in and out between government jobs and the private sector if they want to,” Berry said.

Meanwhile, similar actions are being taken to attract workers to contracting officer jobs and other posts in federal contracting, according to Karen Pica, a management analyst in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget.

“We’re streamlining our recruitment [and adding] better language, trying to make the federal contracting process more interesting,” with entry-level positions as the target, Pica said.

The government needs to make sure inherently government functions are done in-house, and not by contractors, to protect government interests, said Lesley Ann Field, OMB's deputy administrator for federal procurement policy.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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