Tips for Making the Transition from Military to Civilian Life

Job seekers throughout Hampton Roads, Virginia, showed up early for an opportunity to work at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
The Renaissance Hotel’s ballroom was buzzing with activity on July 15, 2023, as job seekers from throughout Hampton Roads, Virginia, showed up early for an opportunity to work at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. (Daniel DeAngelis/Norfolk Naval Shipyard photo)

Federal agencies are on course to start hiring new job applicants with a quicker, résumé-based system in November, government hiring managers said Tuesday.

President Barack Obama ordered federal agencies in May to hit the gas on hiring, giving officials until November to cut the federal job application process to an average of 80 days by switching from a reliance on lengthy essays to shorter application forms and résumés. The effort is part of Obama's campaign pledge to make the government an attractive employer to a wider pool of job seekers.

Most, if not all, agencies will be ready by November, but changes to overhaul the hiring system will continue for several years, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry said.

"November isn't the end date of hiring reform," Berry said. "That is the date that we'll be moving to a résumé-based world."

Hiring managers must keep focused on the issue in the coming years, because "even when we do achieve and reach the goal of 80 days and good quality applicants, if [we] take our eye off that ball, we'll be missing it," he said.

Berry made the comments Tuesday at a meeting of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, a group representing most federal human resources officials.

Kathy Ott, acting deputy undersecretary for civilian personnel policy at the Defense Department, said the Pentagon's hiring reform plans "go out several years."

The department, the government's largest civilian employer, hired 163,000 new civilian workers this fiscal year, a process that averaged 119 days for new hires and 42 days to fill openings from within the department, she said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, the government's second-largest employer, is training more than 3,800 human resources officials about the new hiring policy, said Annie Spiczak, VA associate deputy assistant secretary for human resources.

The training should help agencies meet the tight 80-day turnaround and still hire qualified candidates, Berry said.

"I don't want people just making knee-jerk selections to artificially meet an 80-day deadline," he said. "The goal is to be able to improve our process so we can do a better job."

Berry also said he hopes the administration later this fall announces proposed changes to the Federal Career Internship Program, a two-year stint for college students who often get hired full time. Federal unions pan the program as a backdoor way to hire applicants selectively.

See more at GovCentral.

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