The recruitment process for new hires in the federal government has historically been cumbersome and complicated.
Slowly those issues will change for the better.
Angela Bailey, the deputy associate director for recruitment and diversity at OPM, spoke about the changes with Tom Temin on The Federal Drive live at the Human Capital Management for Defense Conference.
Bailey talked about the significant progress OPM and each agency has made since the changes first started taking place in 2009.
“When you look back two years ago and you see where we were,” Bailey said. “It’s incredible to us how much progress has been made especially when it comes to the applicant’s experience.”
“Some of the areas where we’re very proud of is when you look at the streamlined job announcements. Back in 2009, only about 24 percent of the job announcements themselves were streamlined. We’re now up around 69 percent.”
Job announcements were typically unnecessarily difficult to understand and long.
“We went from 36-40 pages to about 3-5 pages so it actually makes sense for people instead of having to swim through some 30 pages,” Bailey explained. “We have put a concerted effort in writing our job announcements in plain language…it’s just common sense.”
Of course with a change this big that needs to be made government wide, not just in one specific agency, there are challenges that must be overcome.
“The biggest challenge really centers around the fact that this is like an aircraft carrier,” Bailey explained. “It’s not a Jetski, you’re not going to turn it on a dime, you don’t even have the ocean to turn it in by the way so it’s like you’re sitting in the middle of downtown DC.”
“It’s a cultural shift, everybody talks about it and it may seem like meaningless words.”
“When you think about the federal government, two million strong, over 250 agencies and worldwide agents, you can’t just put out an edict and say “thou shalt write in plain language” it requires a tremendous amount of effort.”
Bailey is aware that in order for the changes to be successful, it requires a top-down approach.
“You can’t just manage things from Washington D.C,” Bailey said. “You have to get out, you need to make sure that it’s from a grassroots kind of effort or that you’re out on the street making sure that the message gets out there.”
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-8 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.