OPM to overhaul USAJobs

System to go offline in October for redesign intended to smooth application process.

The Office of Personnel Management will take the government's job application platform offline in October to transition to a new system.

USAJobs 3.0, designed to make the process smoother for potential hires and federal recruiters alike, will debut on Oct. 13. Agencies will have to close all open job announcements before Oct. 6, when the system will be made unavailable to all applicants for nearly a week. The downtime will allow agencies to transition data to the new platform built by OPM and create a level playing field for job seekers and human resources staff, said Angela Bailey, the agency's associate director of employee services.

According to Bailey, USAJobs 3.0 will enable HR professionals and recruiters to mine resumes for more specific applicant information to better target recruiting efforts. Agency staff has access to some data already, but it can take months to create reports with that information, she said. The new system will provide instant feedback and make the data that agencies collect more usable, she added.

The platform also is designed to improve the applicant's experience. Job seekers will have to enter personal information only once and will be able use it to apply for multiple positions. The system will have improved search results with details on salaries, grade levels and job categories, and it will allow agencies to notify applicants of their status.

The "black hole" of the federal hiring process is the problem that drives potential hires crazy, Bailey said. Agencies immediately will be able to communicate status updates though USAJobs 3.0, but it is their responsibility to do so, she added.

OPM has been working on a number of tools to streamline the federal hiring process. The agency in May launched USAJobsRecruit, an online community for agencies to showcase best practices, share marketing and outreach strategies, and post hiring events. Assess, a platform that replaces the complex knowledge, skills and abilities statements traditionally completed by government job applicants with testing tools for 12 types of positions frequently found across government, currently is in a pilot phase.

According to Bailey, OPM doesn't have a target date for completing the overhaul and will continue to collect feedback to enhance the system.

"It's more than just a job posting board, but also an analytical tool for agencies and applicants," she said. "It's something new and different but has the same look and feel."

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