More agencies using resumes to bring on SESers

Thursday - 4/15/2010, 7:00am EDT

WFED's Jason Miller

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

CAMBRIDGE, Md. -- While the White House reviews recommendations to reform the civilian agency human resources processes, senior executive service members are seeing some significant changes.

More and more agencies are using the resume process to hire SES members and the Office of Personnel Management is expanding the training courses for new senior executives.

"We presented two opportunities to agencies or two methods: resume only or what we call an accomplishment record if they wanted more information from the candidate," says Nancy Kichak, OPM's associate director for employee services and chief human capital officer in an exclusive interview with Federal News Radio at the IRMCO conference.

Other agencies have been putting their toe in the water and all of a sudden it's becoming very well used. Next week we are having two major departments run training sessions for all executive service folks to train them in the new method so we think the resume only or accomplishment record are two very good alternatives and agencies are proving they agree with us on that.

OPM led a pilot program in 2008 for agencies to hire SESers based only on their resumes and interviews. Kichak says the pilot became policy in 2009 and now agencies are starting to embrace the new approach.

John Berry, OPM's director, wants a similar program for the General Schedule system. He says the goal is to interview-and-hire as quickly as possible, especially for many of the most common positions in government.

One way Berry hopes to get away from the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA) essay questions is to pre-qualify candidates for agencies. OPM launched 12 databases and plans on adding two more around the 14 most commonly hired positions in government.

Kichak says OPM is developing assessment tools for each position as a way to evaluate potential candidates.

"To build a good assessment tool you have to analyze very carefully the kinds of skills the occupations need," Kichak says. "We are in the process of doing that for the jobs that we have central registers for. We have finished assessment tools for secretaries, clerks and HR specialists."

OPM is using commercially developed assessment tools for the other occupations in the short term.

"We are partnering with some contractors, for instance we are working right now with one for HR specialists," she says. "We also are partnering with other federal agencies which have an interest in building the tool for a specific occupation."

Kichak adds that these tools can take up to six months to develop.

Onboarding is another focus across both the SES and GS systems. OPM is working with the Senior Executive Association (SEA) and the Partnership for Public Service (PPS) to develop a better approach for SESers.

Kichak says when employees enter the Senior Executive Service, OPM provides a one-day training session. But she says while it's helpful, more could be done over an extended period.

"We are setting out to do something we envision to be a year-long coaching, mentoring and learning process for Senior Executive Service members," she says. "SESers could periodically touch back with these folks to help them to be successful in their jobs."

OPM, PPS, SEA and others will meet in May to discuss how best to develop such a program.

"The whole point of onboarding is to provide these new executives with an experience that makes them a part of the whole core, and teaches them things that, even though they have great potential to be leaders and experience, gives them a few extra pointers they might need because they are entering a whole method of leadership," Kichak says.

Berry has not said how he would improve the onboarding process for the GS system. The Partnership for Public Service will hold a Webinar in May focusing on onboarding. John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership, tells the Federal Drive that there are several things agencies need to keep in mind when bringing on a new employee.

Veterans are one group OPM is spending a lot of time helping to bring into the government. Kichak says each agency has a veterans recruiter whose job is to assist veterans to get jobs in the agencies.

"When veterans are looking for jobs, they are not just looking at USAJobs, but can go to the agency coordinator who can sit down with them and look at their resume, and say these are the type of jobs that may be appropriate for you," she says. "We also are putting together opportunities for the people from all agencies to get together and form a network."

The network would help agencies share more easily and more broadly candidate resumes or openings.

"We are trying to give veterans a hands-on experience coming into the government," Kichak says. "We are in the process of working with the veterans committee that was formed by the Executive Order to build a resume bank. There are a lot of actions ongoing."

For more coverage fromthe IRMCO 2010 conference, please go to Keyword: IRMCO.

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