Let’s Be Honest About Federal Hiring


Internal hiring is a double-edged sword in the federal government.

One edge? “Transparent” hiring processes often result in pseudo-competitions whereby the hiring manager already has someone in mind for the job and is just going through the ‘hiring process’ their bureau has imposed. They may be required to interview a certain number of people, hold multiple interview phases, writing samples, and more, with dozens of “perspective hires.”

 Another edge? Hiring through the ‘federal lateral process’ seems unfair to those who were not able to be considered for the job.
Federal leadership wants to:
  1. Make the hiring process open and fair
  2. Hire the best person for the job,
  3. Hire quickly

Having to wait six months for a job posting reduces the supply and demand of jobs in the government. Also, Feds are in a lot of ways “trapped” by their own job due to the lack of other federal opportunities.

More often, feds want to hire and promote staff they have been training for years, staff poised to effectively replace them in this time of mass retirements, and staff that has been long-time feds and understand the programs better than most people.

So, if we let people hire the staff they’ve spent years training, and we let those feeling unsatisfied take a lateral move to another job — I think we may take a step towards alleviating this federal HR issue with general job dissatisfaction.

Sylvia Sosa has Master of Science in Maternal and Child Health and has been a federal employee at  for about 6.5 years. She works in the Policy Office and works on national partnership initiatives structured to support states via collaborative federal programs. Prior to joining the federal government, she worked in the non-profit sector for about 10 years. Her interests lie in improving public health as well as career development for those in need of support. She’s founded two organizations, a non-profit Go-MCH.org, and is launching a new start up: Lateral-Me, set to go live (lateral-me.com) in June of this year. 

She is is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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