Fair AND Simple and Fast? OPM Director John Berry Issues Call to Action for Federal Hiring

By Erica Pierson
Originally posted on Unleash the Monster

From job announcements to applicant tracking, the federal hiring process can be burdensome. In fact, two senior senators recently introduced a bill that would require greater efficiencies in the federal hiring process, particularly for agencies that are overwhelmed with processing applicants. It appears that vast changes are imminent.

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry also believes that improvements are essential in order to attract and retain the best federal workforce. Berry shared his vision about the state of civil service at Excellence in Government. While there, I heard Berry deliver some strong statements about the changes needed to reinvigorate the federal workforce and the perception of federal employees:

“We have, by and large, the best workers in the world, but we do not have the systems or policies we need to support them. We need comprehensive reform, from recruitment and hiring to pay and training.”

The Federal Government will be America’s model employer for the 21st century. With hundreds of thousands of Feds projected to retire in the next 10 years, the hiring problems we currently face can only get worse if we fail to act. Now is the time we must recruit and hire the best; expect the best; respect their successes, and honor their service. To achieve this, we are going to fix hiring and recruitment so that it is fair, simple and fast, and only based on merit.”

I think that Berry makes an excellent point about the hiring process being “fair, simple and fast”. At Monster Government Solutions, we understand the delicate balance between process improvements and adherence to the principles of fairness that have guided federal hiring for decades. Our team has helped federal agencies implement improvements that quickly lead to better job announcements, improved applicant tracking, efficient processing and timely reporting. All of these solutions are designed with fairness and efficiency in mind.

As Berry and members of Congress begin drafting specific recommendations, what do they need to keep in mind?

I’m curious to hear from those of you who have seen the balancing act between fairness and speed in the hiring process over time. Do you anticipate any pitfalls? Is your agency poised to “hire the best” if the hiring process remains the same?

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Joe Flood

Fair and simple and fast…. from a job-seeker perspective, the current federal hiring process is none of these.

For example, I applied for a job three months ago. I recently got an email update about my application. After more than three months, I had been rated in the “best qualified” category. No explanation was given as to what this meant. Was I best qualified for the job? Or just part of a pool of people that were rated best qualified? Why did this take three months?

You’d think that being “best qualified” would mean that I would be interviewed. I’m not sure about that, since the email stated that “the selecting official has discretion in conducting interviews and will schedule them as needed.”

So, I think it’s good that I’m “best qualified” but really don’t know what that means. The process has been lengthy and opaque and the communications I’ve received are unclear.

I think the process should be changed to match what’s done in private enterprise. You apply and they get back to you within a couple weeks to schedule an interview or say that they hired someone else.