employee data (kentoh/Shutterstock.com)

Hiring data shows a better way to fill jobs

The General Services Administration is digging into hiring data to find out why agencies struggle to fill positions.

According to GSA’s Hiring Assessment and Selection Outcome Dashboard, 90% of federal hiring decisions are based on an applicant’s resume and self-assessment, and only 53% of those candidates were offered a job.  Even when another type of assessment, like a multiple choice exam, is part of the review, the percentage ending in a job offer being made still sits at 53%.

Self-assessments are exactly what they sound like: asking applicants if they think they're qualified for the job they're applying for. The use of these self-evaluations and long resumes can sometimes result in qualified job-seekers being eliminated from the process and a less diverse final pool of new hires, said Amy Paris, a product manager and digital service expert at United States Digital Service (USDS) who helped collect the data for the new interactive report.

Even after applicants make it to the "certificate" stage where they're deemed eligible for a certain type of competitive job, GSA found other factors can also lower the number of people that actually move into a job in the federal government, such as the lengthy "time-to-hire," Paris said.

"We want to improve those numbers," she said. "How do we do that? There's data that can help us figure out."

One way is by leveraging different types of hiring assessments, such as the use of subject matter expert qualification assessments, known as SME-QA. USDS has been piloting the program with Office of Personnel Management. SME-QA involves subject matter experts in the hiring process, where they help HR personnel identify what proficiencies and competencies a given job listing involves. The SMEs also help review resumes and conduct written tests or interviews.

On the data dashboard, job postings that used SME-QA assessments resulted in a 100% selection rate, or job offer being made to an applicant. There have been several SME-QA pilots. Now, work is being done to scale the program, Paris said.

Another tool is USA Hire, a competency-based assessment. It's automated, so it doesn't have the same burden of effort as the SME-QA process. When combined with a self-assessment and additional assessment, it also had a 100% selection rate on the data dashboard.

There are other practices that could help more qualified applicants be selected for jobs, such as having hiring managers ask qualified applicants if they'd like to be considered for positions in other agencies when they apply. That could increase the number that get job placements.

For now, GSA plans to update the data dashboard on a monthly basis, beginning in March. The dashboard allows users to parse the data by categories like agency and job type. The hope is that the transparency will help agencies find the best paths forward to improving hiring practices, Paris said.

"We can see there are some things that are really successful," Paris said. "We need to look at … which are the assessment paths that are providing us with the most success."

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

About the Author

Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.


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