OPM unveils its latest tool to accelerate the federal hiring process
The federal government’s HR agency added new functionality to USAJOBS to allow agencies to find candidates who had already been certified for federal employment elsewhere in government.
The Office of Personnel Management last week unveiled the latest step in its effort to overhaul the federal hiring process: "advertising” qualified applicants to federal agencies via USAJOBS.
Over the last several years, HR leaders across Republican and Democratic administrations have set out to reform the federal hiring process, long considered too long and ultimately fruitless in finding qualified job candidates.
The initiative has included a shift toward so-called “skills-based hiring”—evaluating job applicants based on competency tests and interviews with subject matter experts rather than focusing on educational attainment—as well as the rollout of an update to the skills needed for various federal jobs and the development of "shared certifications," a means by which multiple agencies may hire candidates from the same hiring announcement.
Last December, HR leaders at agencies who opted into an early version of pooled hiring as part of surge hiring to implement the bipartisan infrastructure law lauded the tool as critical to staffing up offices quickly.
In a memo to agency heads on Friday, OPM Associate Director for Workforce Policy and Innovation Veronica Hinton announced that the government’s HR agency had added shared certification functionality to the agency-facing portion of USAJOBS through a tool called Talent Pools.
“The Office of Personnel Management is proud to announce a new USAJOBS feature, Talent Pools, to ‘advertise’ available shared certificates of candidates across government,” Hinton wrote. “These certificates, issued under delegated examining procedures through the Competitive Service Act or an OPM-run cross government hiring action, contain candidates who have applied to an open announcement, have been assessed and are available for agencies’ consideration.”
Hinton argued that the new feature should be a boon to agency hiring managers and job applicants alike by removing unnecessary and often duplicative red tape.
“Pooled hiring reduces applicant burden by allowing job seekers to apply once and be considered by multiple agencies for selection,” she wrote. “It also speeds time to hire for agencies who can fill vacancies from the shared certificate of candidates who have already completed rigorous assessments and been found qualified. Through pooled hiring, more candidates are hired from each certificate, reducing the need for agencies to post multiple hiring actions throughout the year for the same positions.”
The USAJOBS Talent Pools feature has been live for agencies since March for hiring certificates issued under the Competitive Service Act, but OPM-originated cross-agency hiring certificates were not added to the system until September. But in order to be fully successful, agencies still must voluntarily fill the new feature’s database with their own certificates of qualified applicants.
“For this to be successful, agencies need to populate the Talent Pools with available delegated examining certificates of eligibles,” Hinton wrote. “Please consider opportunities for sharing your certificates to help other agencies fill their critical vacancies . . . Agencies interested in making a selection from another agency’s certificate must verify through job analysis that the original agency qualification and assessment criteria are appropriate for the position they want to fill and meet other requirements of the CSA.”