Unfortunately it’s the average federal job applicant.  The time it took to hire someone in 2018-2019 is down a little over five percent from the year prior, but it’s still just under 100 days.  By the time a job candidate makes it through the hiring process, waits for their start date, and then works towards their first paycheck, around a third of a year will have gone by.

Of course, not all job candidates wait around for 100 days, because they accept another job offer before that time ever comes.  Private sector jobs have a turnaround of only one-third as long, and the public sector job average is only 54 days.  The candidates still around to accept a federal job either didn’t apply for any other jobs, didn’t accept any other offers, or weren’t selected by any other hiring managers. 

That doesn’t always lead to the best hiring outcomes.  Montana Senator Steve Daines may have said it most cynically in 2018 when he concluded that the only people who accept federal jobs are “the ones who hang out because they have no other options”.

How can you reduce this timeline?  One significant thing agency HR departments can do is to help hiring managers craft better job descriptions.  Here are a few ways a hiring manager can drag out the hiring process.

  • Job announcements are written too broadly. An article in GovExec magazine highlights the outcome of this error.  One person who was writing job descriptions too generally complained they were getting bomb disposal techs on financial job candidate lists.  This ‘bomb disposal’ part was due to a preference for veterans – pretty much everyone was qualifying for the job as written, including plenty of veterans who were receiving extra points due to their service and being pushed to the top of candidate lists.

  • Job announcements are written too narrowly. Another HR executive quoted in the same article also warned about what she called “Sourcing a Unicorn” – packing a job description with requirements that a perfect candidate would have.  With unemployment under 5%, if you’re taking this approach, be prepared to wait an eternity for a qualified job applicant.

  • Not Using the Resources at Their Disposal.  The Office of Personnel Management has an initiative called Hiring Excellence which is designed to help HR specialists get the best results out of the federal hiring process.  Those tools can be useful for managers outside of the HR department too, however.  The website for this program has an “Explore Tools & Resources” section that provides suggestions on recruitment strategy, collaboration with hiring managers, and hiring authorities that may help speed this process along. 

A faster hiring process will benefit your agency in many ways.  The candidate pool may be larger if the expected wait time is lower.  Candidates will also be more likely to wait for an answer from your agency before accepting other jobs. 

Productivity may even improve among current employees. Employees that aren’t highly engaged with their job may not be motivated by helping the agency meet their goals – but they will be motivated to work harder when they know that they can be easily replaced.  When hiring a replacement is almost impossible, these employees can become complacent.

To learn how CMTS:HR can help your investigative HR team manage cases more efficiently, call us at 919-747-3812 or email us at Team_CMTS@MyCMTS.com.