It often seems like the federal hiring process is designed to ensure that the most patient candidates get through – not necessarily the most qualified. Multi-step application processes, navigating the language that is USAJobs and the months it can take for a response once an application is submitted can be daunting for even the most committed of applicants.

Fortunately there’s good news in federal hiring, and within the Department of Defense, specifically. DoD launched a 10-step hiring reform initiative two years ago and representatives are reporting that the process is already faster, more efficient and more transparent.

Unlike before, where applicants were forced to fill out 20 page resumes via Standard Form 171, applications are almost universally processed through the electronic USAJobs portal. Typical hiring times have shortened by 39 days, and officials are hoping to reach the Obama Administration’s goal of an 80-day hiring process.

"If you are going to be in the marketplace, competing for the best and brightest, which is what we want, we want to be the employer of choice," said Pasquale M. Tamburrino Jr., the deputy assistant secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy. "And if you make it hard to apply, you are going to lose in the marketplace."

Critical to the reforms is that they extend beyond the application process to address issues with the hiring process and human resources personnel. A DoD Hiring Managers Toolkit was rolled out eight months ago offering checklists and resources designed to help hiring managers work with human resources to find and place the right candidates. 

All of these processes are designed to help the federal government stand out to employees, and to set it apart from the wealth of contract positions that are often readily available – and much faster to attain for qualified applicants. Federal benefits and job security are already seen as strong incentives to join the federal government workforce, and with lower barriers to entry defense hiring representatives are expecting the positive results, and feedback, to continue.

"We think we are a great place to work, and we give people at every level of experience a great opportunity to do really unique stuff,” said Tamburrino. “So we want people to gravitate to us, and we want an ability to really pick out the crown jewels that exist out there in the workforce and say, ‘Come work with us.’"

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer