Nov. 1st, 2010 was Federal Hiring Reform Day. The Resume Place Certified Federal Resume Writers and clients are celebrating the end of the Long Narrative KSAs as part of the federal application for US government jobs with a Bye Bye KSAs cake!
We are all happy to say goodbye to KSA narratives. Many job applicants were turned off from applying for federal jobs because of the requirement for the long narratives required as part of the application. The most popular KSAs are: Ability to Communicate Orally, Ability to Communicate in Writing, and Ability to Plan and Coordinate. Many applicants have writer’s block and struggle to write about how “they can communicate orally and in writing.” We often hear frustrated jobseekers say to us, “What do they want to hear? Of course I can talk and write.”
Has the Process Changed?
Skeptical hiring reform news was reported in the Washington Post today by Ed O’Keefe in his article Federal Hiring Changes Bring Hope, Skepticism for Application Process. According to the article, the status of Federal Hiring Reform among agencies is summarized as: “Officials have backed off the president’s deadline, … cautioning that only some agencies are ready. The departments of Commerce, Defense and Veterans Affairs and NASA are in good shape, but others are working through reforms that could take years to complete, according to the Office of Personnel Management.”
Therefore, only SOME agencies have done away with the long, one-page narratives about the most typical KSAs.
It’s true. Here at The Resume Place, people are wanting to apply for federal positions with a simple resume and cover letter. But in most cases, the simple application isn’t here yet.
The KSA Challenge Lives On
Ed O’Keefe quotes Kathryn Troutman, President of The Resume Place: “Troutman cautioned, however, that all the reforms won’t necessarily make the hiring process easier. And although KSAs have been eliminated in the initial application, agencies may use them later in the process, after the initial screening.”
Is the government just shuffling around the information and giving KSAs a new name? Seems like it, to Resume Place Certified Federal Resume Writers and Consultants. We are currently finding requests in the vacancy announcements for various statements about your skills, including: competencies, narratives, essays, questionnaires, knowledge statements, quality ranking factors, selective placement factors, specialized experience, and accomplishment record examples.
Occupational Questionnaires are still a consistent part of most federal job applications. These questionnaires include multiple-choice, Yes/No questions, and, occasionally, essay questions. We are seeing essays in about 1 in 5 vacancy announcements.
Additionally, Troutman said that some job postings still require KSA statements without separate narratives. “People are very confused on how to put them in, where to put them, and what to do with them,” she said. If an application requests a traditional resume instead of KSAs, she recommends including short versions of accomplishments within the resume that explicitly demonstrate the applicant’s knowledge, skills and abilities.
Hot Tips on Today’s “KSAs”
Ed O’Keefe’s article points out: “People looking for work with the federal government often call Kathryn Troutman and her company, The Resume Place, for tips on writing the perfect federal job application.”
Here are a couple of tips from Kathryn Troutman on how to make KSAs still stand out in your resume, even if you they are not explicitly required to be written in an essay form:
1. Write a compelling cover letter to state your case. This is NEW as part of the federal application. You can now write and include a cover letter to state why you believe you will be the best candidate and highlight your accomplishments.
2. Add this information to your resume: competencies and accomplishments to prove your knowledge. The accomplishments can be 100 to 150 words instead of one full page. The accomplishments are critical to help you get Best Qualified for a position.
3. KSAs and your Accomplishment Record will be critical for the Structured Interview. Because you do not have to write the narrative KSAs for the initial application, the KSAs will become your talking points and examples for your structured interview. Prepare at least 5 accomplishments that will demonstrate you have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to do the job. The hiring manager will be asking you to least 7 questions where you will give 5 to 7 examples of your past performance.
Another Important Change: Tighter Closing Dates
With Hiring Reform there are tighter closing dates, improved contact between you and human resources, and faster hiring times. Open dates for submitting applications is SHORTER, so that the HR specialists can control the number of applications. Some closing dates are only 3 to 5 days. Therefore, your federal resume must be written ahead of time, so that you are ready quickly to apply for the federal position.
Ed O’Keefe from the Post writes: “The prior process is already faster,” said OPM Associate Director Nancy Kichak. “From the time the president issued his memo telling us to get going, we’ve been going.” The hiring process is now averaging about 110 days, down from 180, Kichak said last week.
For More Help With YOUR Application…
The Resume Place, Inc. Certified Federal Resume Writers are experts at analyzing the application requirements. We are saying good-bye to the long narrative KSAs, but replacing these will be other application requirements. Ask for help with your all-important federal resume if you would like to land a federal job.
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