Several new tools from the Office of Personnel Management are coming soon to help agencies better recruit and hire new talent, particularly top cybersecurity professionals.
The administration is in the process of creating CyberCareers.gov, a new website aimed at reaching federal managers, current employees, job seekers and academic organizations and students.
“What we’re finding is there are a ton of tools out there, but this is a community of all the tools that they have,” Veronica Villalobos, principal deputy associate director for employee services at OPM, said during a Nov. 15 Chief Human Capital Officers meeting in Washington.
The site will be designed as a one-stop shop to better educate those audiences about new federal cyber opportunities and provide resources to help them develop their careers in the field.
The site will launch in the December to January time frame, Villalobos said.
OPM is in the midst of implementing several other pieces of the cybersecurity human capital workforce strategy, which the Obama administration announced in July.
The Homeland Security Department is getting ready to stand up its Cybersecurity Surge Corps sometime in January, Villalobos said.
“This is going to be a team of experts who can go out to different agencies as needs arise,” she said. “It will be highly competitive to become part of that team.”
The administration is on track to meet its goal of hiring 6,500 new cyber professionals by January, Villalobos said. Agencies had been close to meeting that goal back in September but were off by a few hundred hires, she added.
“We are all in great status on everything we said we were going to do,” Villalobos said. “It doesn’t mean it’s finished.”
Pumping the cyber talent pipeline has been successful, in part, thanks to the job fair the Homeland Security Department held over the summer. DHS received 1,400 applications in advance plus 2,000 more walk-in resumes, said Angela Bailey, the department’s chief human capital officer.
The department made 120 job offers on the spot, and those cyber experts started their new positions six weeks after the hiring fair. Now, DHS is trying to sift through the thousands of other applications it didn’t get a chance to review during the summer event.
“There’s a lot of talent out there in the United States that really does want to work for us in this space,” Bailey said. “But our ability to reach back in and keep that talent part of the process is going to be really important.”
OPM hopes to build off DHS’ success and hold a governmentwide cyber and IT hiring fair sometime next year.
The agency may also add more cybersecurity occupations as a direct hiring authority, as well as revised pay and compensation programs for those positions.
“That’s later in the making,” Villalobos said. “But we are doing all the work we need to to prepare for that. I say this because we didn’t want you to think we were tone deaf. We heard what you said about those needs, and we are addressing them. They are in the pipeline.”
USAJobs updates will continue in 2017
After a year of iterative updates designed to improve the user experience, OPM’s next major update to the federal jobs portal will focus on new tools for agency hiring managers and human resources specialists.
The next iteration will be ready by February 2017, said Michelle Earley, program manager for USAJobs.gov.
Agencies will soon have access to two dashboards to help them make better recruitment decisions.
One will give agencies more data about the traffic coming to their job announcements.
The second dashboard will help agencies compare their job announcements to similar ones in a particular field from other departments.
“What is globally happening in a series or an agency that when you, the hiring manager or HR specialist are filling a job announcement, how it compares to those benchmarks,” Earley said. “So in this case, hiring for an HR specialist in Georgia, we can give you some information, like what were the top referral sites? We start to look at how many people were deemed qualified or unqualified. [We’ll look at] the various demographics, senior executives, federal, recent graduates, and the top locations where people are coming from who applied.”
In addition, the resume mining feature on USAJobs.gov, which currently lets agencies look for key skills and qualifications among a vast pool of applicant profiles, will get a new look and search engine.
The talent portal, which has been in the pilot stage for the past two years, will be ready for prime time in February, as well as improvements to overall search function on the homepage, Earley said.
Job opportunity announcements will also get a redesign sometime in March, she added.
Earley’s team made updates to USAJobs over the past year and reached nearly 75 percent of the site. It overhauled the online application process, revamped the USAJobs help center and “contact us” page and added a new feature that lists agency recruiting events and job fairs. OPM also added a profile dashboard, which lets job candidates see the status of their applications and review saved job announcements and searches.
In addition, the USAJobs team spent the past year tweaking its collective mindset about the portal’s purpose. Originally, the USAJobs homepage directed users to a search bar, which prompted them to enter what kind of job they were interested in and a specific location.
“The assumption was that if you came to our site that you know something about the federal hiring process, you know what you’re looking for and you’re ready to go,” Earley said. “That was the wrong assumption.”
Now, job seekers can explore general areas of opportunity, such as cybersecurity, human resources and other mission critical occupational fields. USAJobs also describes eight hiring paths to help applications better understand the process, a list that Earley said will grow in 2017 and beyond.