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Reader feedback: 5 problems with federal hiring

FCW has received a flurry of comments on our recent report about a new bill that would streamline the federal hiring process.

Many agencies have established entry barriers for new workers and created evaluation processes that discourage qualified candidates, according to Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), who, along with George Voinovich (R-Ohio), introduced the legislation March 30.

To which FCW readers say: No kidding.

To read and comment on the story, click here. Meanwhile, here is just a sample of what other readers have had to say so far.

Problem #1: Security checks:
* I have worked in the federal government for nearly 10 years and I am amazed that every time, I transfer to a new agency (with the same level of security) that it takes so long. It would seem that a periodic background check would suffice [and] facilitate a transition into another agency in less than three-four months.

Problem #2: HR managers
* One issue not addressed is the lack of qualified and incentivized human resources staff within government. I do a lot of hiring in the civilian world and my experience with government HR is that if we look at the same resume, I can tell whether or not a candidate is qualified and they can't because generally they are not experienced in the particular functional area for which they need the candidate. As a result, if the candidate does not have his or her resume laid out exactly as the position description, using the exact verbiage then it is ignored. Most good candidates get automatically rejected this way.

* Even with simply hiring rules, paper work within the HR department will still slow the process. As long as backlog equals resources the problem will remain. Streamlining the HR department with IT skills and better IT equipment will further expedite the process. 40 days from position announcement closure should be sufficient.

Problem #3: The time warp
* Is it too much to ask to let the people who have made the cert (the list for choosing the job candidate) know within 30 days of the cert whether they (a) got selected, (b) were not selected, (c) job process is still progressing or (d) Job was cancelled. I estimate of the over 200 federal job applications I have submitted in the last 7 years, at least 75 percent of the time I never got a final response. Some of those websites still show that I am being considered for the job (4 years later!). And for those of you who are wondering, I was qualified to put in for those jobs.

Problem #4: Overly-cautious info sharing
* I am suspicious of the fact that security is so tight within the governments (local, state and federal) that it is not that simple to share applicant data between agencies, although, with current technology only getting better going forward, it should not be that difficult. Nothing on the individual resume is sensitive, other than the social security number, which can be masked, that the sharing of data should be undoable. I would love to see a central clearing house for posting resumes, which would make the entire process more efficient for the government and easier for the candidate to apply for open positions.

Problem #5: Unqualified employees
* I know many smart, hardworking and responsible people who would do a great job for the federal government if given the opportunity. I know many federal employees who are squandering their opportunities to demonstrate they deserve their jobs.

* I pushed for streamlined hiring processes for many years. However, I have found that streamlining only allows us the reshuffle the deck faster. It doesn't make the workforce better. No amount of streamlining will help unless you have previously discriminated based on individual capability at the entry level. A major problem throughout the white collar federal workforce is the lack of certain abilities that are not generally susceptible to development through training. Determining if an individual possesses these abilities (e.g., analytical ability) can only be done through structured testing. Let's integrate this into the initial accession process for those career fields that need it.

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Apr 01, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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