OPM Updates Job Qualifications Following Hiring Executive Order

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The Office of Personnel Management is asking agencies for feedback on a draft list of the qualifications required for federal jobs as part of the implementation of a recent executive order emphasizing applicants’ skills and experience, rather simply education.

The Office of Personnel Management last week posted a draft list of the educational and experiential qualifications needed for federal positions, as the agency continues its efforts to implement a recent executive order aimed at overhauling the hiring process.

In June, President Trump signed an executive order that requires agencies to increase the use of skills assessments and interviews with subject matter experts, rather than relying purely on educational attainment and length of job experience. The order followed the success of multiple pilot programs experimenting with the simplification of the resume submission process in favor of a series of job interviews and skills assessments, spearheaded by the U.S. Digital Service.

As part of its roadmap to implementation published in July, OPM has posted its draft list of federal occupations that will still require some form of educational attainment under the new hiring process. Acting OPM Director Michael Rigas reiterated that education and experience still has a role to play in hiring of other jobs, but it will no longer be the biggest factor in determining who is qualified to serve at federal agencies.

“Upon implementation of [the executive order], agencies must use assessments at the pre-certification stage as a third, and co-equal, mode of establishing minimum qualification (in addition to education and experience),” Rigas wrote. “Developing competency-based assessments will benefit the federal workforce by generating larger pools of highly skilled job candidates from which agencies may choose their employees, thereby enabling highly skilled workers with non-traditional education paths to serve the American public.”

A number of job classifications will continue to require a relevant degree in order for an applicant to be considered qualified for the position, including jobs in the general medical and health care, social work, occupational therapy, computer science and public health education series. But in many other cases, a degree will soon be optional, provided a candidate has an adequate “combination of education and experience.”

Among the posts that allow education and experience to stand in for a relevant degree are community planning, geography, history, sociology, archaeology, microbiology and astronomy and space science. And applicants could be deemed qualified for jobs in the engineering, physics and architectural fields if they have a licensure, registration, or can pass a written test.

Rigas asked that agencies submit comments, including overall feedback and comments on specific job classifications from agency subject matter experts on the draft list of job qualifications by Oct. 16.

“Your comments will inform the development of policy, tools and guidance to assist federal agencies in implementing the EO and improving hiring across the federal government,” he wrote.

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