Federal Manager's Daily Report

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OPM has issued guidance on hiring for competitive service jobs downplaying the traditional roles of educational credentials and candidate self-assessments, saying the shift in approach will help hiring managers “recognize and value skills regardless of where they were acquired, whether in a formal degree program, on the job, or on one’s own.”

“Skills based assessments will also support agencies as they prepare for the future of work. As technology changes the economy and the way government services are delivered, the skills necessary for success in any job are changing rapidly. Skills based assessments can inform agency upskilling, hiring, and onboarding approaches to position the government for long term success,” OPM said.


The guidance is the latest in a series of follow-up actions to a 2020 executive order that is one of the few Trump administration federal personnel initiatives that the Biden administration has continued to pursue. It cites advantages as including (in its words):

* “Making it easier for those who do not have a four-year degree to demonstrate that they have the skills to compete for federal jobs, thereby expanding pools of potential applicants and removing any barriers for underrepresented communities.”

* “Helping hiring managers accurately assess a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities by relying more on professionally-developed competency-based assessments and less on occupational questionnaires only where applicants are asked to score themselves on competencies necessary for the job.”

* “Improving the hiring process for both applicants and managers by providing hiring managers with the skilled candidates they need to hire the first time around, avoiding the wasteful need to re-post positions when the initial pool lacked candidates with sufficient skills.”

* “Assisting current employees as they chart a professional development journey that keeps them in jobs and growing.”

A memo to agencies (at chcoc.gov) notes that under prior instructions, agencies have been identifying occupations to prioritize for transitioning to a skills-based hiring, adding the new guidance “provides agencies with the tools necessary to carry out this transition and, hopefully, to build upon and expand their goals.”

The guidance includes a new Guide to Better Occupational Questionnaires to “improve the rigor of occupational questionnaires used by agencies to meet professional standards”; an update to the General Schedule Qualifications Operating Manual “to improve the hiring of talent applying minimum qualification requirements and the use of passing grade assessments”; and a document of frequently asked questions about qualifications, assessment and hiring.


OPM said that it also will provide additional guidance and training on competency-based qualifications and assessments.

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