user satisfaction hasn't recovered from last year's nosedive

Customer satisfaction with the federal job-search website dramatically plunged following its relaunch last October, and has not fully recovered yet, according to a new survey of users of the site.

The Office of Personnel Management overhauled the USAJobs website six months ago, bringing it in-house to save costs after canceling a longstanding contract. Its initial operation was plagued with technical glitches for several weeks, resulting in thousands of user complaints.

While those complaints eventually dwindled and many of the site's kinks were ironed out, the reduction in customer satisfaction persisted, although it has been slowly climbing back. The most recent score reported by the ForeSee research firm on April 24 shows that satisfaction with USAJobs still falls short of last year’s pre-launch levels.

The ForeSee e-Government Satisfaction Index is released quarterly, based on surveys collected from about 300,000 users of 190 federal websites, with satisfaction index scores ranging from 1 to a high of 100. The average federal website scored 75 in customer satisfaction during the first quarter of 2012.

USAJobs’ score took a sharp drop following the relaunch. From satisfaction scores of 75, 74 and 74, respectively, reported in the first three quarters of 2011, user satisfaction fell to 56 on the index in the final quarter of the year.

USAJobs website’s score still has not fully regained user satisfaction at previous levels. In the first three months of 2012, USAJobs scored 68 out of 100, according to ForeSee’s most recent report.

Matthew Perry, chief information officer for OPM, contended that the USAJobs website has made a strong comeback since its plunge in satisfaction last year. According to figures released by ForeSee, USAJobs satisfaction rose from 56 on the index to 68.

“It has shown dramatic improvement from the last quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2012,” Perry said. “This is a success story. Six months ago we revamped a very public, high traffic site and the team has worked hard to deliver solid, steady progress.”

Larry Freed, president of ForeSee, noted that both USAJobs’ drop in the index, and its partial comeback, are somewhat unusual, since satisfaction scores for federal websites tend to stay relatively stable.

“The good news is that it is trending improvement,” Freed said in an interview with Federal Computer Week on April 25.

Websites that are completely overhauled often experience a 2-point to 10-point drop in the index that Freed calls the “relaunch effect.” That occurs because users initially may be put off by the unfamiliar look and feel of the new website, but typically the relaunch effect quickly wears off, he added.

The USAJobs’ drop was much deeper, and more persistent, Freed added.

The 19-point drop in satisfaction last October was “dramatic, and more than you would want to see,” Freed added. “That was not the norm…They jumped on it, and we have seen it continue to move up.”

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Sat, Jan 5, 2013

Just recently I applied for a job through USA Jobs, built the résumé there and went through the application manager. I later was turned down because I was told that none of my docs were uploaded. I specifically remember uploading the résumé and dd214. I have heard others complaining about similar issues as well. Some think that the issue may lie with applying for the job through the website versus using the link through OPM job announcement. Not sure what the truth is, just looking to see if others have experienced this before.

Wed, Jul 11, 2012 DAFB

USA Jobs turned me down for the job i already have......Tell me what's wong with that?????

Thu, Jun 21, 2012

The disconnect between USAJOBS and the Application Manager is really frustrating. During 2 days in May that I filed a couple applications, the wrong document got uploaded even though it looked ok when I filed. I was not informed that my SF-50 got uploaded instead of my resume until after the positions closed so there was no way to correct it and was deemed ineligible. I can't get anyone to tell me if there was a global problem, or how files got switched. For all other applications, my resume uploaded when I clicked on the resume and I find it hard to imagine I accidentally filed the wrong form 3 separate times voer 2 days. I kind of miss filling out the scantron form with a #2 pencil and mailing everything. At least I felt like if there was a mistake, I could see it and fix it. Now it's just a mysterious black box.

Wed, May 16, 2012

I agree with both ‘SoWhatChanged’, and ‘Missing documents’. I have found the same concerns they posted here. I have been applying for over six years and gave up for many of those years. These are jobs that I am perfectly qualified, and performed while Active Duty. It is not until the closing date figuring out what was wrong if we ever know why not selected. The job advertisements and applications are extremely long, wordy, and difficult to understand. If I wrote like that in my job, I would be out of one. Leave it to the government in making something simple into something complex. I have not noticed any one benefit to USAJOBS, nor any way the system or the caretakers want to help. Retired USAF, disabled, extremely educated, and qualified. Somehow still not knowing the secret handshake to get into the system.

Thu, May 3, 2012

It would be great if you would inform applicants of missing certain required papers or items for applied jobs before the post closes. It's very upsetting to wait 3 years to qualify for a job, wait for it to post and be kick back not due to lack of qualification or experience but due to missing papers that could have been easily submitted if notified right away. I applied the first day this posted and would have had plenty of time to fix what was missing only if I had known before it closed. Because once the post closes its closed. It also limits the choices of who gets hired, more qualified or better applicants aren't even being considered due to this problem.

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