Need a job? Apply to the federal government

By Mike Stallone

A lot goes into the job search process. I know this from first-hand experience. You’ve got to keep your résumé in order, identify viable employers, and dazzle them in interviews — should you even make it to that point. This all occurs with a full schedule of classes. It’s all a very tedious process.

The federal government, the nation’s largest employer with roughly two million civilian employees, has been making some interesting changes to its application process, however. These reforms have come coupled with President Obama’s devotion to expanding federal employment opportunities. The Partnership for Public Service estimates that by the end of Obama’s term, there will be an overall increase of 600,000 job openings at the federal level. He said in May 2010 that the federal hiring system was “complex and inefficient” and that it deterred a great deal of qualified applicants.

A lot has changed, however. Obama’s 2010 hiring reform memorandum did away with the dreaded Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) essay portions of the federal hiring process. The federal application process has since been noticeably streamlined, and applicants no longer need to write lengthy essays. Federal applicants are now able to utilize résumés and cover letters through the USAJOBS federal hiring website as application materials.

Finally, the Obama administration took a few steps to alleviate a problem notorious in virtually all hiring programs— the “job application black hole.” The Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the government’s overarching hiring agency, now must adhere to an 80-day target period, meaning a position must be filled within 80 days of its posting to USAJOBS. No more vortexes of disinformation and uncertainty. Applicants will have a much greater understanding of the status of their application at all times, as the memorandum also calls for much greater involvement from government officials in the hiring process.

What does this mean for the College seniors looking for jobs? The federal government really does have some interesting things going on in terms of employment. While the job search may still be a brutal process, the Obama administration has taken a great deal of steps to alleviate the stress. It should come as no surprise that most of the federal government’s agencies are looking to expand their hiring efforts in the coming years. Job-seeking seniors are definitely in a unique position to try out the new system, and there will be no shortage of positions. The federal medical and public health sector alone is expected to see 54,114 new job openings by the end of 2012. The country’s largest employer definitely has a lot of exciting things to offer, now more than ever.