Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Want a job with the gub'ment?

Start looking soon.

I'm absolutely convinced that except for the highest levels of government, the only hard part about the work is actually getting the job. Here's an example from this morning.

I recieved an email from a woman I know pointing me to a new job posted with the US Agency for International Development. In case you didn't check out the job posting, it's 8 pages long. Most of it is generic job-posting language that has the informative quality of a radio-interview conducted in sign language. Burried in it is the pertinent info:

"Applicants are responsible for submitting form OF-612" l
"Applicants that [sic] submit their application by email without an electronic signiture must send a fax or scanned copy of their signiture in order for their application to be considered for this position."

Just in case you haven't experienced the joy of applying for government jobs, the OF-612 collects exactly the same info as a resume, except it can't be saved. SO, if the position requires you to fill out an OF-612, it means you have to spend 35 or 40 minutes EVERY TIME to apply for that one job.

I might be in special circumstances here, but the idea of faxing or mailing in something that is identical to the documentation that could be automatically submitted via email or an online-application process is ludicrous. Not because it's harder, or requires more equipment, or labor to process--which it does.

My problem is that faxing and mailing things is both time-consuming, and in the case of faxes--expensive. Why? Because like many in "my generation" I don't have access to a "real" or "land" phone. I have a cell phone. My roommates all have cell phones. So it doesn't make sense for us to spend an extra 30 bucks a month on a "real" phone, when we're already covered there. So I have to send faxes from the local pharmacy. Not bad in itself, but they charge $1 per page. Every page. And when almost all job applications to the Hill have to be faxed (so they can sort them out from the hundreds of daily-traffic emails they get a day), we're already talking about $12 a week in fax bills.

Wouldn't it be cheaper to install a phone line for a couple months and then discontinue service after I got a job? Not when there's an installation fee. And even if it was, that's not the point.

If the federal government wants to hire qualified, energetic, motivated people, it can't set up a system in which they either A. can't afford to apply for the positions because the government can't figure out how to use the systems it already has in place, B. they take 6 months to complete a hire for an entry level position--by which time their top 25 choices of candidate have taken other opportunities in other cities and aren't likely to move back to DC just to get a $26,000 a year job, and C. when getting a security clearance to do any interesting work takes upwards of a year of waiting in complete limbo, because the government is paying people to call every past roommate, every hotel you've stayed at in a foreign country, and making sure your GPA reported really was 3.4 and not 3.397.

I recognize that I'm just voicing the frustration that has been levelled at bureaucracy for dozens of generations around the globe. But it seems to me that at some point bureaucracies should figure out that while in some ways they hold things together, in just as many ways they make sure the system doesn't work--and then find a way to fix it.

Guess I'm just a silly idealist. Time to go send a $3 fax, just so a place can have my signiture.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

John could you fax me your signature. I have your picture but no signature.