Army automates job matching

Automation and deeper data on candidate qualifications is helping the Army better match an officer's talents and interests with a unit's staffing requirements.

The key to finding the best talent, especially when it comes to tech, is better data.

The Army is using automation and deeper data on candidate qualifications to help it better match an officer's talents and interests with a unit's staffing requirements.

"We know who the cyber officers are because they're already in the cyber branch," said Maj. Gen. Joseph Calloway, Army Human Resources Command's commanding general. "What we don't know is the infantry officer who also has some sort of certification as some sort of coder -- he's got some unique data analytics skills that aren't captured in his traditional educational background."

To better tailor officers' assignments, Calloway said the command is working to capture and harness new information, including tapping into data pertaining to outside knowledge, skills and other desired traits -- such as where soldiers travel or may have lived in their youth -- that wouldn't necessarily show up on their Officer Record Brief (ORB), which details formal education and career highlights.

Using the Assignment Interactive Module 2.0 automated job application portal, officers applied for assignments and commanders interacted with applicants, officials told reporters during a Feb. 6 briefing. With AIM 2.0, officers can view all open positions and list preferences and skills that aren't on their ORB, while unit commanders can use it to interact with applicants to figure out who is best for the assignment.

The automated assignment matching system made a noticeable difference -- with a 35-percentage point improvement in participation. More than half of officers and units received their top choice, where the unit and officer matched, Calloway said. Eighty percent received a choice in their top 10%.

Old-fashioned interviews and face time supplemented the automated system, officials said, but being able to cull data points that aren't captured in an Army officer's official record or formal education is important for force readiness.

"The ability for an officer to self-profess his or her talents on the backside of the ORB is really important because we now are able to see all sorts of skills that we didn't know existed within the officer corps," said Maj. Gen. J.P. McGee, Army Talent Management Task Force director.

As an example, McGee said he brought on an officer, an operational research systems analyst, who is writing a book on people analytics for CEOs -- expertise that would have been missed otherwise.

"She's now the head of our team that is trying to develop a people analytics strategy," McGee said. "So there's a lot of information that is out there that isn't encapsulated in your official record that we're trying to capture on the backside of that ORB."

The process did have snags, though.

"The automated tool ultimately runs out of information to make decisions on," Calloway said, "and would assign officers to jobs for which they did not qualify."

Those mismatches were corrected, Calloway said, but to prevent -- or at least lessen -- them, the Army wants to increase and improve data collection.

"What we're going to do is try to make the tool more user friendly on both sides so that the filtering mechanisms in the tool will help," he said. And in cases where the tool runs out of data, Calloway said the Army plans to "insert additional logic into that tool to prevent that from happening."

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

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