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General question on federal hiring


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  • General question on federal hiring

    I know the process takes forever. It's not uncommon to hear of people having been in the hiring pool for 3 years before they are hired. WHY does it take so long? I understand background checks take time but I don't understand how the whole process takes so long. Then, in the meantime, they are still accepting new applications, meanwhile other people have been waiting for 2 years to get hired. Can anyone shed light on this? I have military friends with some of the highest clearances possible, and it doesn't take nearly as long for their backgrounds to be complete.

    Second, does anyone ever get hired more quickly than the average wait time, and what factors play into that? I know of two people who were hired as agents with the FBI within 1 year of applying. They both had about 6 years prior military, and one of them had parents who both had retired from the FBI.

    Just looking for insight into why the process takes so long. I understand it's a process, I know all the different steps involved, but in my opinion, 3 years is bordering on the ridiculous. And then the other question was - does it ever happen faster for some people, and what factors play into that?

    Thanks for the insight!

  • #2
    There's a difference between people being "in the pool" for three years -- that is, sitting on an eligible list -- and the process taking three years. An agency can't just hire people because they're on the list, they need to have the vacancies to fill. So, if you're #31 on the list, and they hire 30 for a class, then you will sit in case someone backs out, they need another class, etc. But it's still a darn sight better than being told, "Sorry, we hired our 30 -- now go and do the written, PT, background, etc. again."

    They accept new applications while there's still a current list of eligibles because some people will have found other jobs during the wait, decided against LE work, or found some other reason not to accept the offer. At the same time, the hiring process for the people putting applications in could be a year long. Simply put, agencies that do this want to have a list of people to pick from quickly when they have vacancies or are told to start a class. It's better to build the Ark before the flood, as it were.

    I've never seen a process that takes three years, but I have seen some that take over a year. Sometimes, the agency is only taking applications, and will hold them in case of future vacancies. Then, once the vacancies exist, they start the actual process. I for one don't count that waiting period as part of the process, because they're not doing anything with the applicants at that point.

    Once an agency decides to test, it may take quite a while to push one or two or even three thousand applicants through. Some places take a whole month to fit in just the written portion. Then the scores have to be graded, applicants notified in time for them to be able to schedule around the PT test. The PT test is given, and people are scheduled for interviews. Then people have to fill out background forms, which takes some time on the part of the applicant. Then the investigation happens, then psych exams, and medicals... it's a long process because it's a complex process with many people participating at each stage.


    • #3
      In the case of IRS CI, there appears to be a reoccurring pattern in SA hiring. They selected and send into the pipeline more agents then they have actual funding to bring through training. The bottle neck is occurring at funding for classes.
      Add variable is that fewer agents are retiring, so HQ project a greater need then has materialized
      "From now until the end of the world, we and it shall be remembered. We few, we Band of Brothers. For he who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother." - William Shakespeare ("King Henry V")


      • #4
        A few things need to be considered. First of all, in the case of some agencies, there is a very small HR team. They have to process through thousands of applications. The larger agencies like CBP, or TSA, which do an absolute ton of hiring, have huge HR departments. Other agencies, such as the US Marshals or ATF, have much more limited resources and they do hiring much more infrequently due to their smaller size. It takes a lot longer for the limited number of HR specialists at the smaller agencies to process all of those applications. That is part of the reason why many of the smaller agencies don't post open announcements to usajobs. They would get absolutely flooded with applications and would have no way of processing them all in a reasonable time period (this is supposedly why ATF canceled the past 2 announcements).

        I brought up US Marshals and ATF because they have notoriously slow hiring processes. There is even a story of someone waiting 8 years to become a DUSM.

        Second of all, often the longest part of a hiring process is the background investigation. At my agency, an interim clearance is given to a candidate so that they can get on the job quicker. At many federal jobs though, you must pass the BI first. My BI wasn't even a Top Secret or a Secret, but it still took them 6 months to adjudicate. Thank goodness I was on the job that entire time rather than sitting at home waiting.

        Other issues in the federal hiring process are being addressed by the current administration and the push for federal hiring reform recently. I wish one of the issues addressed was the fact that often times people who already have security clearances have to go through another one because they are switching agencies. This is a waste of both time and money.
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        -Perseverance is being able to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint.

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