A recent Washington Post piece by V. Dion Haynes highlights both the Federal Government’s attempts to accelerate Federal hiring and a non-profit effort to help applicants. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Government Jobs has been released on the heals of an Obama administration directive to cut typical application processing times in half and make it easier to apply for an upcoming half-million job openings.
So will a 332-page book help? Probably, but there’s something that’s both frightening and disappointing about the need for a book that enlightens a process that’s normally quite simple (judging from most corporate application procedures) in a format that often describes otherwise complex skills such as C# Programming or financial planning.
Improving the inconsistent, complicated Federal hiring process is definitely worthwhile, but one troubling aspect of the Administration’s initiative is a movement from assessment of relevant knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAO’s) to greater reliance on job experience. Unlike our own complex and individualistic career patterns, however, assessment is meant to cut straight to what’s required for the job. By attempting to quantify a vast array of job histories, this directive may make the applicant scoring and screening process actually more complex for the hiring manager.
On the other hand, anyone who has successfully navigated the Federal hiring process may have already displayed high cognitive ability, tenacity, attention-to-detail and dependability, so maybe most newly-hired Federal employees will have a lot of those KSAOs covered anyway!