ACT-IAC: Hiring process holding back agencies

In many ways, you’re hiring people the same way the private sector does – but in the ways you’re not, it’s holding you back.

Research by ACT-IAC’s Human Capital Special Interest Group, says your agency has a couple hurdles to overcome to make the hiring and onboarding process work as smoothly as the private sector. Joan Golden of Topside Consulting, Vice Chair of the Human Capital SIG, told me part of the problem your agency has is that it’s collecting information from candidates in the wrong order.

“The process in the private companies is very much the same…you do a job description, you do an advertisement, you have a selection process,” Joan told me. “What is key is that there has to be collaboration. To get a better Federal hiring process, it can’t just be the human capital office, or the hiring manager, or the recruiters. It has to be a team effort to get the whole job filled.”

Joan had kudos for one collaborator in the hiring process. “What was different, really, in the private sector, was the expanded role of recruiters. In one of the companies we interviewed, the recruiting function was not even in the human capital [office]. It was considered a part of marketing. Private companies look at recruiting as more aligned with marketing than human resources.”


The push to end KSAs at the front end of the hiring process got a big thumbs-up from the ACT-IAC team as well. “In agencies, most of the work of downselecting is on paper. With the private companies…they didn’t gather as much information up front; they screened candidates as they went along. It was a more interactive process,” Joan said. “Nobody in the private sector required anything requiring the skill [of the KSAs]. KSAs are used by the private sector; just [not] those essays that everybody had to write. Generally the practice is to collect a little information up front – enough to know who you’re interested in – and then ask for more later.”

Joan and I explored all the findings of her team as spelled out in the white paper “Commercial Hiring Best Practices: Assessment and Selection,” published by ACT-IAC. You can hear more about the findings by clicking the audio link; you can read the entire paper by clicking here.