Kathryn Troutman Discusses Hiring Freeze, Hiring Thaw, Agency Reshaping and Budget Reductions with Mike Causey

Please CLICK HERE to Listen to the Interview

This week, Kathryn Troutman joined Mike Causey on federalnewsradio.com “Your Turn” on May 3, 2017 to share her thoughts on the impact of recent Executive Orders on the federal hiring process and what it means for you. Here are some highlights of that conversation:

HIRING FREEZE: How did the freeze impact the typical applicant for a federal job?

President Trump’s January 23, 2017 Memorandum created challenges for prospective applicants, particularly those who had received offers that were rescinded based on when they were extended.

But, OMB also created LOTS of exemptions in the Executive departments and agencies, including: military and uniformed personnel; Presidential appointments including SES and Schedule C in the Excepted Service; Central Intelligence Agency and Director of National Intelligence hires; Pathways Internship and Presidential Management Fellows Program appointments. And, career ladder promotions inside agencies were not held up.

And, agency heads had authority to exempt additional positions that met national security, foreign relations or public safety needs. In addition, OPM was authorized to grant additional exemptions in critical situations.

UPDATE YOUR FEDERAL RESUME: So, as you can see, although there was a freeze – there were many exemptions and hiring has continued throughout the timeframe. Applicants who are serious about entering or moving up in the federal civilian service need to use times like this to get prepared and update their resumes.

WORKFORCE REDUCTION: From what you’ve been seeing, does it appear that some agencies are concerned about the possible need to pare down their workforces in anticipation of the upcoming budget cycle?

Fortunately, the House just approved a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown and keep the Executive Branch operating through September 30, 2017. The Senate is expected to follow and it will be sent to the President for his signature.

Although the hiring freeze formally ended on April 12, some Agencies are cautiously awaiting further clarity on the upcoming FY 2018 budget before they start to fill vacancies again.

That’s due in part to Executive Order 13781 that President Trump issued on March 13, 2017 – “Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch.” It directed OMB to propose a plan to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies including eliminating or reorganizing unnecessary or redundant agencies. Each agency head is to submit their preliminary proposals on reducing the size of workforces. An OMB memorandum – “Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce,” issued in mid-April, provided more specifics.

So … budgetary uncertainties and the need to assess their workforces have resulted in some civilian agencies proceeding cautiously. For example:

  • State, the EPA, and TSA continued to block all or some of their hiring despite the formal end of the hiring freeze.
  • The Administration’s proposed FY 2018 cuts at the EPA seek to eliminate 1/4 of the Agency’s jobs.
  • The State Department has just proposed eliminating 2,300 jobs as part of the FY 2018 budget.
  • The Department of Defense had initially continued the hiring freeze even after it was formally no longer in effect. However, on May 2, 2017, DoD issued a memo lifting earlier restrictions on civilian hiring while carefully scrutinizing all hiring actions given the direction of Executive Order 13781and OMB Guidance.

But, it’s still early in the game and the specifics will likely change throughout the FY 2018 budget process.

UPDATE YOUR RESUME: But, for right now, many agencies are filling some or all of their vacancies. And, prospective applicants should jump on the opportunity to REASSESS AND PRESENT THEIR KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES so they can be viable candidates for these positions.

NEXT FEDERAL HIRING DIRECTION – What does your past experience tell you about the hiring direction we may see in these next months.

Wait and See! President Trump’s preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 2018 (starting October 1, 2017) proposed for a significant increase in defense spending and a significant reduction in discretionary non-defense spending. That sends a clear signal that we may see fewer civilian jobs in the federal government.

Although it appears that the Administration is interested in reducing the size of the federal workforce, Congress plays a pivotal role in that context, particularly with regard to the budget. It’s too early to tell whether attrition alone will be enough to bring down the number of federal civilian employees. Even if some agencies end up reducing hiring, it DOESN’T MEAN that ALL HIRING will be impacted. Once agency budgets pass Congress, we’ll have a better idea – and each agency has its own budget.

Right now, it’s too early to tell. Our experience tells us that civilian positions in certain field such as intelligence, security, logistics, finance, and law will always be needed for agencies to be able to meet their missions.

NO MATTER WHAT: Update Your Federal Resume! Get Ready!

MORE COMPETITIVE THAN EVER? Will the federal jobs be more competitive than ever during and following the government reshaping?

Yes, supply and demand will make the federal jobs more competitive for top qualifications – scarce and selective.

With fewer positions posted on USAJOBS, more people will be applying to all of the positions. The Human Resources Specialists will be reviewing resumes more carefully. It will be more important than ever to be strategic with your qualifications, education, skills.

TIP: Think about your next career move and be more strategic than ever. Networking could make more of a difference in the new competitive federal job search.

NON-COMPETITIVE HIRING PROGRAMS? Will they be used more with the more competitive USAJOBS applications?

We think so. It’s important that applicants know about what the full range of non-competitive hiring programs that they may qualify for. For example, veterans seeking federal careers can pursue Veteran’s Recruitment Act positions – instead of USAJOBS announcements. 30% or more Disabled Veterans can write to agency Veteran’s Representatives for Direct Hire positions. People with Disabilities can write to Selective Placement Program Coordinators for federal job leads. Students qualifying for Pathways Internships can apply through the FREEZE. Students and Recent Grads are In-Demand. Military Spouses can use the Executive Order 13473 if they are on PCS orders to get on the PPP-S Database.


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Posted in Blog, Federal Hiring Freeze Exemption, Federal Job Search, Federal Resume Writing, USAJOBS, Veteran Federal Jobs

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