New USAJOBS Feature Offers Hope But Federal Job Seekers Still Struggle

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Last summer, a fake USAJOBS app was removed from the Google Play Store following a report from FedScoop.com. That app, which had been downloaded more than 50,000 times, apparently fooled many due to the fact that there hasn’t been an official mobile app from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management since May 2015. The agency in charge of coordinating the recruitment of federal employees discontinued the app, and no official replacement has returned in its place.

“There isn’t an official app, and there are no plans to introduce an app,” explained Michelle Amante, vice president of federal workforce at the nonpartisan, nonprofit Partnership for Public Service.

She told ClearanceJobs that OPM has felt that its updated website is mobile enabled.

“Hopefully the confusion over the app will dissipate in time,” Amante added.

The lack of a mobile app that lists civil service job opportunities within the federal government is arguably just one of the complaints that many users have about USAJOBS. The website was first created in 1996 as a platform to host job openings and match qualified applicants to those jobs. Some job seekers have said they found the platform to be filled with barriers, while the hiring process is overly complicated.

“We have to remember that USAJOBS is basically as a search engine. As such, it is only as good as what agencies send to it,” said Amante. “We have talked to a number of applicants, and heard that the biggest hurdle is the job announcements and the data housed on it.”

Same Job on USAJOBS, Different Requirements

According to the Partnership for Public Service’s findings, many job seekers have said that USAJOBS is often filled with jargon, and many applicants may not understand the job requirements.

“If you’re not already employed in the federal government, you may not feel like you’re qualified,” suggested Amante.

One of the biggest issues is that the same job can be listed across the agencies, but with vastly different requirements. That makes it especially confusing for job seekers. But that isn’t actually a problem with USAJOBS and has more to do with how the agencies are using it.

Like any tool, it must be used correctly – and as the old computer saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” That seems to ring true with many of the job listing.

“There is a lack of standardization,” Amante continued. “Often times some users feel like their application went into a black box as there may no response for months. The platform gets blamed for the bad data that agencies send over.”

The problems could be resolved if the agencies standardized their job listings, and were more responsive.

“Agencies need to do their part. Agencies need to own it,” said Amante.

The GoGovernment.org website from the Partnership for Public Service offers tips on how to use USAJOBS. This includes points that applicants should pay close attention to, including conditions of employment and qualifications; as well as to how to best refine searches on the platform.

New Talent Pool Feature

USAJOBS also recently introduced a new tool that could help agencies contact pre-vetted candidates. The job portal makes use of shared certificates.

“Agencies’ use of pooled hiring advances the President’s Management Agenda Workforce Priority Strategy 1 that calls for agencies to efficiently and inclusively attract and hire quality candidates and reduce any systemic barriers by improving the hiring process for all applicants, hiring managers, and Human Resources (HR) Specialists,” wrote Veronica Hinton, OPM’s associate director of workforce policy and innovation in a December memorandum.

“Pooled hiring reduces applicant burden by allowing job seekers to apply once and be considered by multiple agencies for selection. 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,” added Hinton.

These pooled hiring actions could be a major step forward in streamlining the job search process.

“It is encouraging for a job seeker it will make it easier to apply to multiple agencies,” added Amante. “It is exciting that OPM will take this approach for high demand jobs.”

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