Some common critiques of the system:
- While gone are the dreaded KSAs (knowledge, Skills, and ability essays), in it's place are what many could consider meaningless multiple choice questions that enable applicants to game the system and answer what they think or know is the right answer just to get the highest points.
- Also, there is always the potential (however infrequently) that there is a favorite candidate of someone or someone who knows someone, but knowing doesn't necessarily mean best qualified, but rather well-networked or connected.
To be fair, there are protections in the hiring system to include an oath of truthfulness on the application as well as security clearances which are used to help ensure accuracy. Additionally, there are the Merit System Principles that prohibit favoritism and nepotism of any sort.
However, when it comes to hiring, what you can't really do in the government is just plain and simple see and recognize talent and bring someone on board.
Anyway, this came to mind today, when we ran again into this amazing lady at Starbucks. She works there right out of college.
She's a barista and has the most amazing customer service skills I've seen in 25 years of professional experience.
She remembers us every time we come in and recalls what we talked about on our last visit. She regularly asks about things like my kids talking their SATs, visiting colleges, and more.
But she doesn't just do this with me, but with all her customers.
She has a big welcoming hello, and smile for all of them, and doesn't just take their orders, but engages them as human beings.
I tell you this young lady would be terrific as a customer service representative in my IT shop or any other...and if I were in the private sector or had my own company, yes, I'd conduct a more thorough interview and background on her, but then I'd probably shake hands on the spot and offer her a job.
I can see her interacting with my customers, capturing their requirements, problem-solving, as well as routine troubleshooting through engagement with the customer and the subject matter experts.
Because she is a natural with people and intuitively understands how to work with them, engage, and establish trust and good service ethos.
However, if she applied on USAJOBS in the current system of hiring, I think she'd never make "the cert" (the list of qualified applicants that gets referred to the hiring manager), because she's currently working in a coffee shop.
Something is wrong that we can't easily bring in young or old, talented people from the private sector or out of school, and grow them into federal service, even if they don't have the perfect checklist answers.
Unfortunately, this is a problem in many bureaucratic-driven organizations, where if it's not checklist-driven, then it's usually not at all. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)