Federal government revamps hiring process

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On Nov. 1, federal agencies instituted a series of reforms intended to make the government's hiring system easier to use and better able to fill mission-critical jobs.

The changes are a result of a yearlong initiative by President Obama to address long-standing impediments to recruiting and hiring individuals for the federal civilian workforce.

The president's plan challenges agencies and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to focus on three key objects: initiating a vigorous, government-wide recruiting effort that makes it easier for Americans to apply for federal jobs while also raising the bar on candidate quality; giving managers and supervisors a greater role in recruiting and selecting candidates; and monitoring agency efforts to improve the speed and quality of hiring and the satisfaction of managers and applicants with the hiring experience.

"These reforms take a common-sense approach to the overall hiring process. They rigorously adhere to the merit system principles upon which the civil service is grounded," said OPM Director John Berry in a memorandum to the heads of federal departments and agencies.

In keeping with the reforms, the Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently announced it and the rest of the USDA would be instituting new hiring procedures.

For instance, applicants will no longer be asked to answer knowledge, skills, and abilities essay questions. A detailed resume tailored to the position is required. In some cases, a transcript may also be needed.

Additionally, resumes will no longer have to conform to a predetermined template and can be uploaded directly to the federal government's job site, www.usajobs.com.

"Ultimately, APHIS' goal is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our hiring procedures," the agency said in a statement. "This is a significant undertaking, and we will continue to refine our hiring processes and implement changes as necessary to ensure that anyone who is interested in a career at APHIS can easily apply."

To learn more about the Office of Personnel Management's hiring reforms, go to www.opm.gov/HiringReform/HiringReformRequirements/index.aspx.