Until recently, applying for a civilian job at the Defense Department was an exercise in endurance and patience.
Applicants had to navigate through a byzantine federal hiring process and amass thick application packets, then often waited as long as a year for any word on their applications.
Pasquale “Pat” M. Tamburrino Jr., deputy assistant secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, said the practice left defense offices short of critical skills for extended periods and discouraged the best candidates from even considering federal service.
“If you are going to be in the marketplace, competing for the best and brightest — which is what we want — we want to be the employer of choice,” he said.
“And if you make it hard to apply, you are going to lose in the marketplace.”
Committed to attracting the best job candidates, the Defense Department is making good on President Barack Obama’s mandate last year to improve the federal hiring process.
DOD launched its own hiring reform initiative two years ago, and it’s revolutionizing the way the department processes about 250,000 hiring actions a year, Tamburrino said.
The typical timeframe for hiring new employees already has been cut from an average of 155 days to 116.
“We’re pretty happy with that, but we are not stopping there,” Tamburrino said. His goal is to reduce that to the administration’s goal of about 80 days.
The broad, 10-step DOD hiring-reform initiative covers the full spectrum of the hiring process to make it not only faster, but also simpler, less bureaucratic and more transparent, he explained.
It makes applying for a DOD job more in line with what the private sector offers, he added, and ensures hiring managers have the tools they need to advertise and fill vacancies.
It builds a closer partnership between hiring managers and human resources personnel to expedite the hiring process and make it a better experience for everyone involved, Tamburrino said.
For applicants, gone is the burdensome standard form 171, the official federal resume that could run 15 to 20 pages.
Also gone is the requirement that job-seekers write essays proving they have the proper knowledge, skills and abilities — called KSAs — for the job.
Applications have gone electronic, filed through the Office of Personnel Management’s government-wide “USAJobs” portal.
And once applicants enter their profile into the system, detailing their education, work history and skills, that information propagates all of their other job applications.
After they press “send,” applicants are no longer left wondering if their application has gone into a “black hole,” Tamburrino said.
“People are getting feedback when they submit their application,” he said.
“They are getting a response: ‘Your application is in the queue. It has been received by the [human resources] office. It is being processed.’”