Despite reform, federal hiring process could be simpler

Tuesday - 6/19/2012, 4:00pm EDT

By Keith BieryGolick
Special to Federal News Radio

More than two years after President Obama's memorandum to reform federal recruitment and hiring, the progress agencies have made is clear. But the biggest remaining challenge is for agencies to continue to make the hiring process as straightforward as possible.

Ventris Gibson, former Assistant Administrator for Human Resources of the Federal Aviation Administration (Photo by Mike O'Connell/Federal News Radio)

Ventris Gibson, executive consultant for the North Highland Company and former Assistant Administrator for human resources at the Federal Aviation Administration, said the federal hiring process needs to be simplified to mimic private sector procedures. She spoke to Federal Drive's Emily Kopp on the Federal Drive Monday as part of Federal News Radio's coverage of the Government Performance Summit, Obama's 2010 initiative laid out plans to bring federal processes more inline with how companies recruit and hire.

For example, the government previously required its applicants to write time-consuming essays meant to judge a person's knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA). The reform eliminated the need for these essays and let applicants submit resumes and cover letters or complete simple, plain language applications instead.

"I actually worked many years ago on the KSA that used to populate the applicant's resumes," Gibson said. With written essays abolished, "The government has come a long way. I also believe that we still have a long way to go."

In the end, hiring reform's success comes down to individual agency's willingness to adapt. "Hiring reform is at its best ever. I believe that it depends on each agency's focus and commitment to it," Gibson said. "I think we have an opportunity in government to do several things that's very exciting."

Agencies should look at what attracts different generations to employment, as well as what retains them to a specific employer, Gibson said. "I also believe you need to focus on finding the right applicant for the right job at the right time."

Gibson said applicants usually fall into three different categories: Those who know the agency because of their background, those who are on the fence about an agency who could be swayed by branding and those who are just looking for a job, any job.

Keith BieryGolick is an intern at Federal News Radio

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