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KSA’s To Be Phased Out

Jason Kay |

Earlier this year the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced it was moving with much vigor to scrap the part of the government hiring process that most individuals dread; the knowledge, skills and abilities, or KSAs, questionnaire. The KSAs are a series of questions that are answered in essay form by the applicant and then graded by reviewers. Obviously, the higher the grade the better your shot at landing the Federal job you are applying for.

The OPM is making the move to have individuals that are seeking Federal employment be hired in much the same way they would in the private sector, which is primarily resume based. The main reason for this is that the OPM feels that the long and drawn out KSAs are actually discouraging some to apply for Federal work. This discouragement could lead to the best possible candidate for a job to never be seen in the first place and thus never hired. While this announcement is sure to have many Federal job applicants jumping for joy, the announcement gives many mixed feeling and there are pros and cons to what this will mean both now and once it goes into effect.

The phase out of the KSAs is hoped to be completed within a one-year time frame, but the efforts have only recently begun. For now at least, the KSAs do remain in effect. This is actually good news for those that are applying for a Federal job and have the KSAs down to a science. For the many that hate the process, if you want to avoid them you will just have to be patient.

The drawback to making the announcement of the phasing out of the KSAs is that now some potential applicants may do just that and exercise their patience and wait for the hiring process to be more streamlined. Federal jobs that once had several hundred applicants at a time may now be whittled down to a smaller percentage. Again, great news if you are one of those individuals that can master the KSAs as your chances of getting that Federal position are much higher if there are less applicants. But that will all change once the KSAs have been totally phased out.

Once the KSAs are gone for good, you can bet that the number of applicants for Federal Jobs will increase in a big way. It is much easier to apply for a job by simply submitting a resume than it is to answer KSAs for hours. This influx of applicant will surely have the Human Resources departments working overtime to sift through the numerous resumes. While this process might ensure that the best person is hired for the federal job, this also means that the wait time will probably increase. Where the KSA process may have produced a candidate in a few weeks, the new process could take far longer. The increased number of applicant will also decrease your chances of getting a Federal job by percentages alone.

Perhaps though the biggest effect that the federal job seeker will experience is the shift in what is needed to land that Federal job. Now applicants for Federal work will have to make sure that their resumes are top notch and will not be able to rely on the KSAs. While many may like this idea, others may not. Some individuals are better at writing in essay form than writing a resume and vice-versa. Whatever the case may be, once the KSA phase out is complete everyone will have to have a strong and polished resume to increase the chances of landing Federal work.

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  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    How masterful can some people really be at KSAs? You either get the job and then not have to worry about writing anymore for a few years, or you keep writing a bunch while not landing a government job. Which probably means you're not so good at writing what they want to read.

    The lazy writing duplication of job duties and requirements need overhauling too. Everyone of the technical ones look like they could be for anybody from a network admin to a developer to project manager to researcher. No details just, "You have to perform the duties of the next highest grade." Yeah thanks for the info.

  • Robin1a_max50


    over 5 years ago


    I agree KSAs will make sense to phase out. However, in the past few months, the number of KSAs on announcements seems to be growing. In the past, announcements typically had 5 KSAs, now I am seeing announcements with as many as 20 KSAs - many of them repetitive.

    In the meantime, I do not recommend waiting for the job to be announced. If you are willing to create KSAs which stand out NOW you will have a lot less competition - plus you can get the job now, rather than waiting. Also, there is no guarantee there will be no KSAs - this is just a proposal which has yet to be approved.

    If you need help with your Federal Resume and KSAs, you might want to have a professional help you. I am a professional resume writer and can help.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    The KSA's are a dreaded excercise, where most don't know how to write them anyway, leaving people frustrated, discouraged, and disheartened. It's an exercise of bragging about yourself and writing everything you've ever done; who remembers every task they've perform and how it relates to a particular KSA. And who has time for that matter! Yes, this ridiculous excercise (leave it up to the Gov't to come up with something so complicated) results in people ending their quest to land a gov't/civil service job. In the dreadful economy we are now experiencing, there are so many people out of work, frustrated to begin with, falling way behind on their bills, falling deeper into debt, and although they have many fine qualities and experience they bring from previous sector employment, they can't land a gov't job all because they didn't use the key buzz words, or didn't know how to write KSA's, which might as well be compared to writing a thesis after awhile. I WORK for the gov't and have been helping a friend write resumes for the gov't, and let me tell you, it's been no easy task and I have 'inside-corporate-knowledge' so-to-speak. For the life of me, I have no idea how someone on the outside lands a gov't job. In this negative economy, the next thing that must go is the debt-limit on gov't security background checks. How are people affected by this economy suppose to ever get their feet back on the ground (less debt, less foreclosures, less bankruptcies), if the U.S. Gov't doesn't loosen the debt limit on the background checks. This is not the time... PEOPLE NEED JOBS (Uncle Sam)!!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    The KSA's do need to be removed. However, as one of the above comments stated "so that the over-educated, under qualified masses don't
    end up with all the jobs," some form of monitoring should be implemented so
    that this does not happen. The essay questions should not have been used
    as a process to whittle down interviews......personal interviews can not be
    replaced. A person's talk (written word) must be aligned with their walk (how they actually perform/implement). The KSA questions sometimes box in
    abilities and experience.....ex: a KSA question on a job I applied was specifically asking if you had done thus and so in a job on a routine basis.....
    while I did not have tenure on a job as such, I did have actual experience
    sporatically many times annually for ten years from avocations that were
    extensions of my then present committment to volunteer avocations created a potential vocation. A person that had been on a job for a year or two may not have had anywhere near the qualifications that I had.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    The KSA,S need to be removed immediately because they are an unneeded discriminator. You already have to spoon feed the human resource personal your qualifications in your resume so why should you have to try to further impress someone with made up unverifiable accomplishments. I was taught not to embellish when writing about myself and others and the KSA,s to me are just an embellishment and I am glad they are on their way out.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    TurnandBurn, many times I've cut and pasted pieced of my Resume into my KSAs, so just because KSAs aren't required anymore doesn't mean experienced people won't apply. However, as it said above, now you will have to spend time carefully crafting your resume to fit the announcement you're applying for. You will have to use key words in the announcement to get your resume picked over others.

  • 090109-pic_of_jake_max50


    over 5 years ago


    The reason I never got a government job is because of the process. I hated it then and I hate it now, but I am determined to land a federal government job by Aug. 2010 or before. I am tired of being laid off in the private sector, for sure.

  • Meintruck_max50


    over 5 years ago


    GREAT, to me it is like being in school writing an essay for class and hoping the teacher will like it. If they do then you are hired, if not then keep walking. It has nothing to do with job skill but more with a comprehensive thesis.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    Now anyone who doesn't want to take the time to list their detailed abilities can jump into the federal workforce. Great here come the over educated under qualified masses who will wiggle into jobs based on education instead of actual KNOWLEDGE!

  • Snv30813_max50


    over 5 years ago


    It's about time !!!! KSA's to me have always been a wste of time for both sides. Anyone should be able to see your qualifications thru your resume and interview. When I was younger I didn't know KSA's were a requirement and caused me I know now to not get the job. Thank goodness there hasing it out hopefully for all.

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