OPM unveils new toolkit for agencies to hire cyber talent

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A new resource hub from the Office of Personnel Management outlines what benefits agencies might be able to offer to fill cyber positions.

The Office of Personnel Management on Monday launched a new resource hub for agency hiring managers attempting to lure cyber talent into government service.

The webpage “hub” and April 11 memo for cyber hiring outline the tools and resources available for recruiting, hiring and retaining cyber talent. 

“Time is of the essence—the federal government must close the skills gap and hire IT/Cyber talent to strengthen our cyber defense,” the memo states.

Agencies looking to hire cyber talent face high demand for a limited pool of cybersecurity specialists and the high salaries available for them in the private sector. There are currently close to 600,000 cyber job openings nationwide, according to Cyberseek, a database backed by the Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. 

The government’s personnel office itself has struggled to “compete” for talent against agencies with personnel systems specifically made for cyber talent, like the Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Talent Management System, OPM Director Kiran Ahuja has previously discussed

OPM is focused on guaranteeing that agencies tap into “the tools they have right in front of them, which are the special pay rates, which are recruitment and retention bonuses, critical pay rates,” she said at the time.

In terms of hiring, one tool is direct hire authority, a procedure that eliminates certain procedures like veterans preference to expedite hiring. OPM can grant the authority for vacancies where there’s a shortage of talent.

The new memo also gives information on Senior Executive Service hiring and recruiting recent graduates with programs like the Cyber Corps program, which gives cybersecurity students scholarships in exchange for government service after they graduate.

The new U.S. Digital Corps, a new, two-year fellowship program meant to bring in early career techies into government, is another option for early career talent that’s spotlighted.

Agencies can also offer leave flexibilities, pay bumps for new employees and student loan repayment programs to attract talent. The latest memo also outlines the availability of agencies to bring in detailees from industry or other agencies.

The new memo also points agencies to updates on how to best code federal IT, cyber and cyber-related functions. OPM also references new best practices learned from an inter-agency pilot meant to “increase the visibility and effectiveness of our federal cybersecurity job opportunity announcements” available for agencies on MAX.gov. 

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