Posts Tagged ‘Federal hiring process’

“Rewarding excellence” v. pay-for-performance

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

The Obama administration “strongly supports the concept of rewarding excellence with additional pay”: but is rewarding excellence the same thing as the much-maligned “pay-for-performance” system? Joe Davidson examines:

The notion of rewarding superior work is not unknown under the GS system, though it’s never called pay for performance. Quality step increases “can be granted to recognize employees in the general schedule who have received the highest available rating,” says the privately published Federal Employees Almanac.

Orszag did note the quality step increases in his letter, but he went on to say “alternative pay systems may have the potential to improve individual and agency effectiveness by tying objective staff performance rating and pay more directly to agency goals and achievements.”

Nonetheless, he hinted that current pay-for-performance systems may not survive the Obama administration review in their present form. “The Administration will not support any pay system that is unfair or has the effect of suppressing wages or discriminating against employees,” Orszag wrote.

That’s exactly the arguments federal unions raise against pay for performance.

Proposal for improvements to the federal hiring process

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) introduced in the Senate yesterday the Federal Hiring Process Improvement Act (S.736), a bill designed “to help agencies fix the broken recruitment and hiring process in the Federal Government.” Said Mr. Akaka:

The Federal Government is the largest employer in the U.S., but every day talented people interested in Federal service walk away because the hiring process is longer and more complicated than that of other employers. Too many Federal agencies have built entry barriers for new workers, done too little to recruit the right candidates, and invented an evaluation process that discourages qualified candidates.

In the private sector, many employers post job vacancies through a variety of online and other venues and require only a resume and cover letter to apply. Applying to the federal government should be similarly accessible and easy. However, agencies often require substantial essays and other documentation at the initial application stage.

Agencies need to adapt, just as the private sector has, to take advantage of modern technology to boost recruitment efforts and streamline the hiring process to make it more user friendly. Inexpensive outlets such as social networking sites offer agencies an opportunity to expand their profile and post job opportunities without emptying their wallets. It is easier than it was in the past to submit and track application materials during the application process. Agencies should accept candidate-friendly applications such as resumes and cover letters for the initial application and ask for additional information only as needed. Likewise, technology makes it possible to provide automated information to candidates, so candidates should receive timely and informative feedback about the application process.

Timely and informative feedback? Meaning any sort of indication that your application to a federal position was viewed by at least one set of human eyes and didn’t immediately get shuttled into the Internet Black Void of Wasted Time and Energy? What a lovely thing that would be.

I’ve never seriously pursued any federal jobs, but I’ve applied for plenty. The applications were indeed long and arduous and the only one I ever heard back from was a writer/editor position at the Smithsonian—I got a nice rejection letter nearly 9 months after applying. Some improvements to the process would be most welcome.