USAJobs turns 20, as OPM adds more site features

USAJobs.gov, the government’s federal job portal, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week, and with it comes a new round of improvements and updates.

The latest iteration is “rounding out a nearly yearlong series of updates” to the job site, the Office of Personnel Management announced Monday.

“This doesn’t mean our work is done,” acting OPM Director Beth Cobert said in a statement. “This USAJobs team here at OPM will continue to solicit user feedback and make continuous enhancements to the website to improve the experience for applicants interested in federal service.”

The agency created a new, responsive mobile site to replace the USAJobs app, as well as a new landing home page that’s better organized, OPM said. Also in the past year, the agency added an application tracker to help job candidates follow their progress as they start and finish the process. Applicants can also build their own resumes directly on the site or upload files to USAJobs, which they can now preview before submitting the application.

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Other changes include a new “help” center with frequently-asked questions and “mythbusters,” which aim to dispel common misconceptions about the federal hiring process.

The changes are the result of several focus groups, interviews and testing sessions with prospective job candidates and human capital specialists, who gave feedback and input on USAJobs and the site’s new iterations and designs.

“We have put metrics in place to measure and track whether the updates we’ve made are improving the user experience and meeting the needs and expectations of our users,” Michelle Earley, USAJobs program manager, wrote in a blog post.

The General Services Administration helped OPM utilize a tool, the digital analytics platform, to measure the agency’s progress with USAJobs, Earley said.

For example, those metrics have taught OPM that more than 14,000 federal job opportunities are available on any given day, Earley said. Roughly 22 million applications get started on the portal every year, with 1 billion searches done on the site, OPM said.

OPM announced its first round of improvements to USAJobs in February, and the agency has continually made improvements to the site throughout the year. OPM’s Innovation Lab has been leading the charge behind the updates to USAJobs. The team has been working in six to eight week “agile scrums” to make incremental improvements to the site, OPM said last December.

USAJobs.gov has gotten its fair share of criticism in the past from job applicants, agencies and Congress. But as OPM argues, the job portal has come a long way since before 1996, when the hiring process was paper-based and interested job applicants had to visit federal agencies in person to view open announcements.