Elimination of KSA improves Labor's hiring process

Tuesday - 6/14/2011, 3:04pm EDT

Eugene Sexton, deputy chief human capital officer, Labor

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By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

The Labor Department's elimination of KSA essays and increased collaboration with managers are leading to higher-quality candidates in the hiring process.

"I think basically getting away from those KSA essays ... has taken the whole hiring process from a writing exercise with reams of paper to one where you have verifiable data, like resumes or transcripts," said Eugene Sexton, the deputy chief human capital officer at the Labor.

"I for one am so glad to see them gone," Sexton said of the KSAs (short for knowledge, skills and abilities).

Doing away with KSAs was one part of the hiring reforms President Obama has called for. The administration also wants agencies to cut the time it takes to hire new employees.

Labor's hiring time was 100 days in early 2010; now it's 86 days, Sexton said.

What's more important than the time is making the hiring process "applicant-inviting," he said.

Sexton said before he posts a job vacancy, he talks to managers about their needs.

"I start out with them and say, Describe to me the ideal candidate. Describe to me the ideal employee for this position," Sexton said.

Based on what managers tell him, Sexton writes a position description. But, he said, "We don't start out right off the bat with HR gobbledygloop."