The Army’s new way of looking at soldiers matches skills, behaviors and preferences to command needs.
The Army is making a push to improve the way it places soldiers in jobs and, in turn, may be increasing their quality of life along the way.
This past fall the service finished up its first trial with the talent marketplace, placing nearly 15,000 officers in positions they were interested in based on their individual talents and the needs of the commands taking in new soldiers.
“Naturally people would like to have a hand or a part in the decision-making process for where they choose to move,” Army Talent Management Task Force Deputy Director Mike Arnold told Federal News Network. “The data suggests that people are pleased with the transparency and their ability to show their knowledge, skills and behaviors; write a resume. In that respect people have a hand in their own destiny.”
Those officers were supposed to move to their new orders starting this summer, but the Army had to postpone them because of the coronavirus. However, the Army still learned lessons along the way.
The way the talent marketplace works is it asks officers to upload the attributes Arnold mentioned. Then they can choose their preferences for the command they want to work under. Those commands look at the resumes and skills and choose who they think would fit best.
This differs from the previous system, where assignment officers decided where to place soldiers. The result of this new approach was a 67% match for soldiers pairing up with commands in their top three preferences.
“Everybody wants to have some degree of control and this process allowed them to have that,” Arnold said. “When you expand that to an individual officer and their communication with their spouse and families, they’re preferences are based on a whole host of reasons. We had stories of officers sitting at their screens with their spouses right next to them and they were able to talk to their mentors, weigh the pros and cons of different decisions as they preference each assignment location.”
The Army gained some insight into its soldiers as well. Not only did it learn about the skills and knowledge of its soldiers outside their careers in the service, it also showed the Army where people are interested in spending their time and what career paths are in higher demand.
“We’re using that to structure our incentives such as brevet promotions,” said Col. Michael Kuzara, team chief for the employ team at the Army Talent Task Force. “What changed is this went from simply a numbers game of filling people at certain locations to certain fill percentage level.”
Right now, the Talent Management Task Force is working with the Army Research Institute of restructuring the data points of skills and behaviors the officers added to make them easier to use and to expand what can be done with them.
The next round of selections is not set until this fall and an official date hasn’t been hammered down, however, the Army plans on expanding the talent marketplace.
The Army Career Tracker, a portal for soldiers to use for job support, currently runs the marketplace. However, it eventually will evolve to be part of the Integrated Personnel and Pay System – Army, which will consolidate human resources capabilities into one system.
The Army is now tweaking with the talent marketplace by adding new features, such as hover functions over buttons, better filtering and sorting and an improved interface.