Earlier this year the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced it was moving with much vigor to scrap the part of the government hiring process that most individuals dread; the knowledge, skills and abilities, or KSAs, questionnaire. The KSAs are a series of questions that are answered in essay form by the applicant and then graded by reviewers. Obviously, the higher the grade the better your shot at landing the Federal job you are applying for.
The OPM is making the move to have individuals that are seeking Federal employment be hired in much the same way they would in the private sector, which is primarily resume based. The main reason for this is that the OPM feels that the long and drawn out KSAs are actually discouraging some to apply for Federal work. This discouragement could lead to the best possible candidate for a job to never be seen in the first place and thus never hired. While this announcement is sure to have many Federal job applicants jumping for joy, the announcement gives many mixed feeling and there are pros and cons to what this will mean both now and once it goes into effect.
The phase out of the KSAs is hoped to be completed within a one-year time frame, but the efforts have only recently begun. For now at least, the KSAs do remain in effect. This is actually good news for those that are applying for a Federal job and have the KSAs down to a science. For the many that hate the process, if you want to avoid them you will just have to be patient.
The drawback to making the announcement of the phasing out of the KSAs is that now some potential applicants may do just that and exercise their patience and wait for the hiring process to be more streamlined. Federal jobs that once had several hundred applicants at a time may now be whittled down to a smaller percentage. Again, great news if you are one of those individuals that can master the KSAs as your chances of getting that Federal position are much higher if there are less applicants. But that will all change once the KSAs have been totally phased out.
Once the KSAs are gone for good, you can bet that the number of applicants for Federal Jobs will increase in a big way. It is much easier to apply for a job by simply submitting a resume than it is to answer KSAs for hours. This influx of applicant will surely have the Human Resources departments working overtime to sift through the numerous resumes. While this process might ensure that the best person is hired for the federal job, this also means that the wait time will probably increase. Where the KSA process may have produced a candidate in a few weeks, the new process could take far longer. The increased number of applicant will also decrease your chances of getting a Federal job by percentages alone.
Perhaps though the biggest effect that the federal job seeker will experience is the shift in what is needed to land that Federal job. Now applicants for Federal work will have to make sure that their resumes are top notch and will not be able to rely on the KSAs. While many may like this idea, others may not. Some individuals are better at writing in essay form than writing a resume and vice-versa. Whatever the case may be, once the KSA phase out is complete everyone will have to have a strong and polished federal resume to increase the chances of landing Federal work.