Forest Service uses Web to lure short-term workers

Forest Service uses Web to lure short-term workers

The agency maintains an online recruitment board for those seeking temporary job opportunities

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

Forest Service job applicants no longer have to peer through the trees searching for temporary work.


The Forest Service is using the Web to attract potential temporary employees. The agency's job openings are listed on the Web at www.fs.fed.us/people/employ.


The service maintains a Web site from which job hunters can request application information about job opportunities at more than 400 locations nationwide.

Most of the Forest Service's offices use the Web site to lure potential applicants, but about 40 percent have taken a wait-and-see attitude before they consider joining the online venture.

Previously, each office issued its own recruitment bulletins, often requiring applicants to contact several offices.

'It has kind of been a gradual thing,' said Mary Ann Fletcher, a Forest Service staffing specialist, of the move to the Web. The service began implementing an automated system of wading through applications in 1996 and each year increased the technical aspect of the hiring process.

'It started out small-scale, and every year we bumped it up a little,' she said.

The recruitment board, at www.fs.fed.us/people/employ, shows many positions, including technical jobs in archaeology, forestry, engineering and hydrology.

'We have worked with the Office of Personnel Management to establish an easy and efficient way for people to find temporary work with the Forest Service,' said Steve Nelson, director of the service's Office of Human Resource Management.

Forest Service technicians used Netscape Composer to construct a no-frills site to help applicants find job openings, said Chris Berry, a Forest Service computer specialist.

The site is hosted on an IBM RS/6000 server running IBM AIX.

The search is on

A potential applicant scans the Web site for a suitable job, then requests an application packet by e-mail, mail or toll-free number or by visiting a local Forest Service office.

The service scans the requests using OpScan5 from National Computer Systems Inc. of Eden Prairie, Minn., Berry said. The system can scan 3,500 sheets per hour, then it feeds the information into an Oracle7 database, he said.

Before storage, Oracle SQLplus script automatically edits the data and places it into the proper fields, Berry said.

If there are no missing fields, the system automatically begins performing personnel office functions such as creating responses, Berry said.

The system has the capacity to handle the 30,000 requests the Forest Service expects, he said.

The site received 1,039 hits Dec. 27, its first day online, Fletcher said. In its first month, the system supported the mailing of around 6,500 application packets to those seeking temporary work. About 21,000 packets were shipped to Forest Service offices and universities, she said.

Temporary workers, most of whom are employed for six months or less, make up about one-third of the agency's work force of more than 11,000 employees.

All applications are processed at the Forest Service Automated Temporary Employment office in Boise, Idaho.

The Forest Service next plans to bump up the technical level of the Web site with an online application process and by adding more types of job positions, officials said.

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