Want a federal job? Be prepared to wait (and wait)

by SixFigureStart | October 26, 2009

  • My Vault
It turns out that our government is just as inefficient as the rest of us. Quelle surprise!!

All that you've heard about an abundance of federal spots is still true: Government bureaus and agencies expect to add 273,000 jobs by the end of 2012, and in a survey of the site this past weekend, USAJobs.gov (where most such openings are presented) contained 30,000 postings. But the application procedure is less than streamlined; candidates often have to submit up to three pages of essays, which can be hell on the review process. Also, job requirements frequently call for rather highly-specialized government experience (shutting out large swaths of the unemployed). Still, on average, jobs generate seven times the interest they did in 2007 (170 applications per job in 2009 versus just 25 back then). Under current regs, the hiring timeframe is a bit nebulous, as it incorporates an undefined period for evaluating candidates between the posting (10 days) and interview (45 business days) phases. And it's hard to get in through the back door, with only 7% of interns hired full-time.

The good news is that the powers that be have recognized there is a problem, and they're working on a solution or three. According to the head of the Office of Personnel Management, John Barry, said in July that the agency is "going to fix hiring and recruitment so that it is fair, simple and fast, and only based on merit." Further, the OPM is tinkering with the process so that vacancies will be filled within 80 calendar days, somewhat fewer than the number it takes today. (The Wall Street Journal said that "government officials wouldn't quantify the average time from posting to hiring under the old (current) model.")

--Posted by Todd Obolsky, Vault Staff Writer

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