Canning KSAs? OPM Chief Says Federal Hiring Could Soon Move to Resume-based Application Process (like everyone else in the universe)

PSLawNet is in the business of helping public-service minded law students and lawyers to achieve their career goals.  Federal government career pathways have always been popular among both newly minted and experienced attorneys, but never more so than during the recession, when Uncle Sam was seen as maintaining one of the legal industry’s (relatively) safe employment harbors.  

Traditionally, one of the most confusing obstacles on the federal career path has been the highly bureaucratic application process.  In particular, many applicants find the the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) statement that is required for many federal positions to be loathsome.  Well, for all of those interested in making a career in federal service, here’s some exciting news from the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) director, as reported by the Government Executive:

The much-maligned essays on federal job applications known as knowledge, skills and abilities statements could be eliminated from the hiring process by April, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry said on Tuesday.

Berry said he expects to send President Obama a plan next week outlining immediate hiring reforms, including shifting from KSAs on government applications to a résumé-based system. Obama could sign an executive order implementing the changes as early as April, the OPM chief said during the Federal Managers Association’s annual convention in Arlington, Va.

“We’ll get the federal system off of its island of KSAs, and onto the résumé base that the rest of the country is on,” Berry said. Federal job applicants long have complained that KSAs are cumbersome and inflexible.

Berry also outlined a series of proposed changes to management processes.  A note of caution on the KSAs: They refuse to die easily.  This is not the first time that there’s been talk of doing away with them.  Long-time public interest career advisors at law schools have told us that speculation about the KSAs’ demise seems to circulate every few years.  Nevertheless, support at the highest levels of federal personnel management for vanquishing them once and for all bodes well. 

KSAs or no KSAs, be sure to take advantage of PSLawNet’s extensive federal career resources.   

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