Twenty months after its implementation, Hiring Reform is showing up on “Watchdog Radar” by those looking to applaud its success or to point a finger at its failure. I’m just trying to figure out if Hiring Reform is another political initiative or if it truly will improve the performance of the Feds recruitment and hiring process.
Prefaced on the belief that “the Federal Government must recruit and hire highly qualified employees, and public service should be a career of choice for the most talented Americans”, Hiring Reform was supposed to increase the Federal manager’s involvement in the hiring process and, presumably, this was supposed to deliver "the most talented Americans" to the Federal workforce.
How are we doing? The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) adopted a 4-Point Metric System to evaluate Agency performance: I) Time to Hire, 2) Job Opportunity Announcements, 3) Applicant Satisfaction, and 4) Manager Involvement. Sounds good, right? But how do these criteria measure the Feds' hiring performance in delivering "the most talented Americans" to the Federal workforce?
Wisely noting the Feds’ widespread hiring freezes and budget-downsizings, Tim McManus at the Partnership for Public Service raises the same point. "How are we engaging in actually trying to reach the best … If you need specific types of skills, you have to fish where the fish are.” Hiring restrictions mean that Feds “need to make sure they are hiring the best candidates."
I continue to wonder why the speed at which the Feds fill jobs yields “the most talented Americans” to the Federal workforce. True, this measure drives HR Specialists to meet or exceed expected timeframes but how does this metric move the Hiring Manager to do the same?
I think we’re working with a faulty assumption here! Are Hiring Managers really anxious to put forth more of their own effort to fill vacancies when there are no consequences in place for their failure to engage? I further propose that even though applicants prefer the True/False & Multiple Choice Q&A process now used in the first stage of the recruitment process, most applicants are probably being hurt by this new system. Why? Because, applicants don’t know how to present themselves in resumes; they don’t know how to create resumes that adequately describe their experiences. Job seekers (especially Federal employees) are not universally skilled at choosing clear, unadulterated, and appropriate verbiage to describe themselves in a resume. Instead, applicants have learned from the changes that came about with Hiring Reform, to craft resumes using "key words" that will "ping" the Feds' electronic screening tool.
FYI: Hiring Reform aside, HR Specialists still READ applicant resumes! Now, however, absent those ill-begotten KSA’s, resumes are the only thing available for the HR Specialist to use to verify the accuracy of that new-fangled electronic screen tool!
I’ve seen great applicants go by the wayside because someone else got in all the right words to trigger the electronic screening agent to find them "qualified" while truly qualified candidates have been over-shadowed or worse yet, eliminated from consideration, even though the techno-saavy applicants don’t have a lick of specialized experience to work in the field of the advertised vacancy. Ah yes, “specialized experience”! THAT has not gone by the wayside! And HR Specialists (not those computerized screening agents) are still obligated by legislative statute to insure that only QUALIFIED applicants are referred to the Hiring Manager.
So, if you want fast hiring, Hiring Reform is the way to go. If you want competent Federal employees, perhaps OPM should work on developing performance metrics that actually measure that piece of data! Perhaps as well, Hiring Reform should be reformed to insure that Federal employment decisions are based on more than just hiring speed and ease in applying.