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Taking a Pass on Passion

As the staff meeting started it occurred to me that coffee smells better than it tastes. Even with generous heaps of sweet and milky adulterants, the aroma itself overpromises. But as we sipped our cuppas and pre-reviewed the agenda for the team meeting on advancing a government agency’s program, we were rocked back on our heels. Oh no. Not her. Listed there was the name of yet another passionate consultant.

It’s funny how passion has become the newest pseudo-credential in the long march of management fads and certifications, particularly among the consulting classes. We’re told clients just love passionate experts, where you can cut the thickness of their commitment and enthusiasm with a knife.

Ok, so maybe there is nothing wrong with energized experts who love their work trying to inspire others. Except. This is a plea to remember the rest of us, who have to sit through their hour-long presentations teetering on less than five minutes worth of original ideas and evidence. Thank god for caffeine as the rest of the morning’s work will involve just trying to stay awake listening to them wave their arms around in overheated passion for the subject, for the...

Recruiters Read a Tiny Part of Your Résumé, If They Read It At All

If you’ve applied for a job and never heard back—and who hasn’t been there?—you’ve probably had the nagging suspicion nobody even read your résumé. You probably weren’t too far wrong. Many job applications don’t get read with any kind of care or attention, because recruiters spend, on average, an estimated (pdf) six seconds on a résumé.

That datapoint is supported by the 12th annual Mystery Job Candidate survey (pdf), in which job-search consultancy CareerXRoads creates a fake résumé for a “Frank N. Stein,” and has volunteers use it to apply to all 100 companies on Fortune magazine’s Best Place to Work List.

The results: 66 companies ignored the résumé; 28 emailed “Frank” a rejection; six (!) emailed or called to schedule an interview; and two (included in the “negative” count) wrote back noting they knew the résumé was fake:

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And these are companies with a particularly good reputation as employers and recruiters.

His name aside, “Frank” has a pretty solid fictional résumé. He is a Cornell University graduate, who worked at Johnson & Johnson for several years, and is currently at Russell Reynolds Associates.

A recruiter paying attention...

The GS System Cannot Be Fixed

The General Schedule salary system has become an impediment to good government. The annual analysis to compare federal and nonfederal salaries has lost credibility. No president has accepted and approved the increases to close the pay gap since the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act was enacted in 1990. Salaries for high-demand, critical occupations are not competitive. And in light of the budget battles, there is no reason to believe government will ever fund the classification system at the level to administer it as expected when the Classification Act of 1949 was enacted.

No component of the GS system is functioning today as originally intended. Bureau of Labor Statistics pay surveys do not make it possible to state that a job is paid at market, above market, or below market. Nor can the Office of Personnel Management assure employees they are paid fairly relative to others working in the same office (that is to say, each job is in the correct grade). The funding is not adequate to study these issues. The anecdotal evidence makes it clear the components of the system deter applicants and impede agency operations.

When FEPCA was enacted, the expectation was that the gaps across the country...

Why Some People Can Get Away With So Little Sleep and Others Can't

In a crazy sleep experiment a few years ago, I reduced my sleep from eight hours to a little more than four. I managed to do it by following a polyphasic sleep schedule, where I got a few hours of sleep at night and took short naps during the day. I was quite proud of myself—but then I discovered that some people can get by with even less sleep, without major difficulties.

For many decades scientists have been aware that some humans—byone estimate as much as 1% of the population—seem to be resistant to sleep deprivation. Despite their drastically reduced hours of sleep, these exceptional people show no apparent symptoms of sleep deprivation and often lead healthy, successful lives. From Winston Churchill to Marissa Mayer, there are plenty of examples of successful people who manage to get by on four hours of sleep a night. But how?

The Enigma of Sleep

Despite our ability to understand biological processes in great detail and even though a sleep-like state is observed in nearly all animals, the inner workings of how we sleep remain poorly understood. What we know is that sleep is critical to our well-being: Sleep-deprivation studies...

What the Private Sector Can Teach Us About Open Government

The buzzword of the moment among local leaders is “open government,” and chief information officers are attempting to make the hype a reality. In the Center for Digital Government’s 2014 Digital Cities and Counties surveys, one of the top priorities for CIOs at the local level was “open government/transparency/open data.”

Yet, despite the strategic focus on open data, a recent Pew survey on views about open government found that only 7 percent of Americans think local governments share data effectively.

So why the failing grade? And where is the disconnect? The answers lie in the evolution of open data in local government.

Where We Are

Until recently, open government was synonymous with transparency, which emphasizes government accountability in informing citizens about public operations. For example, local governments can achieve transparency goals by sharing public documents via a Web portal or sharing video footage of government meetings on the organization’s website.

Transparency, of course, is important, but it is more about pushing information to the public than collaborating with citizens.

Local governments that go beyond transparency can often be described as participatory. Participation occurs when government opens mechanisms for feedback so that policies can be informed by...