I’ve recruited for agencies in 3 different cabinet positions throughout government. During my recruiter years, I met so many managers who placed false hope in what USAJobs would bring them. They placed far too much faith in what I, as an HR specialist, would do to describe the job (usually a cut-and-paste job from the PD) and how I would phrase screening questions and job descriptions in order to “lure” candidates.
If you are serious about finding the best people, you absolutely cannot rely on throwing spaghetti onto the USAJobs wall to see which noodles stick. Yes, you must use USAJobs to fill a Federal competitive service vacancy and you must follow the Merit Systems Principles. But you can’t expect that your ideal candidate: 1) knows what USAJobs is; 2) can navigate the search function to find your position; and 3) through sheer serendipity, has found your position during the precise 10-day timeframe HR chose to post the job.
In private industry, you’d be working with HR on your hard-to-fill jobs to devise a “sourcing strategy.” You’d be thinking of the ways you could drive traffic to your posting through social media channels, industry affiliations and connections (nothing unethical, of course), and word-of-mouth marketing. Feds need to do the same thing to get the right people to use USAJobs at the right time and in the right ways.
I work now in communications/public relations, and my job isn’t all that different from my 5 years in HR. I learn all I can about the small segment of the world whom I need to reach–where the get their info, whom they trust, etc.–and I use the 4 Ps of marketing to “sell” them on a “call to action” to do whatever it is I need them to do.
Team up with your HR person to do the same thing. Read the announcement before it’s posted. Have a say in when it’s posted. And if HR won’t give you what you need, team up with your communications/public affairs people to spread the word for you.