WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — With a command mission that relies heavily on a more than 65,000 person civilian workforce, recruiting, developing and retaining top talent is critical to success.
This is the driving force behind the ongoing AFMC effort to transform the civilian hiring process across the enterprise to meet mission needs today and for the future.
“Ask anyone to describe the federal government’s civilian hiring process and they will probably say the current system is too slow, too cumbersome and badly out of sync with our mission needs,” said Bill Snodgrass, director, Manpower, Personnel and Services, AFMC. “We need to change this in order to build a human capital system that meets the needs of a 21st Century Air Force. A big part of this effort is focused on finding ways to speed up the civilian hiring process.”
Recent hiring events lead by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at the Air Force’s Kessel Run project in Boston and at Eglin AFB, Florida provided prospective employees the opportunity to register, interview and receive on-the-spot job offers, filling a number of open positions at one time. More than 90 same-day offers were made to candidates at the Kessel Run and Eglin AFB events in January, with candidates hired to fill programing, management and engineering positions at AFLCMC and the 96th Test Wing.
“We are extremely pleased about our success at these events and the high-caliber of talent that we acquired to fill critical needs across the center,” said Eric Dilworth, Director of Personnel, AFLCMC. “The model works, and we are excited to expand use of the process and the decreased hiring timelines at future events.”
AFMC improved its civilian hiring timeliness by 12 percent in fiscal year 2018 and plans to continue finding ways to speed up the employment process. Four major secretary-approved hiring initiatives are providing positive returns, particularly when coupled with continued process improvements in all talent acquisition areas.
“By leveraging multiple Secretary of the Air Force (Heather Wilson)-approved civilian hiring initiatives, continued utilization of Congressionally-provided direct hiring authorities, and by implementing an enterprise recruiting approach that capitalizes on process improvements, we are exhausting all means to more efficiently hire civilian employees.” said Snodgrass. “A lot of work remains; however, we are moving out of the industrial hiring age and driving towards a world class hiring model. We are leading the Air Force in this area.”
The establishment of a non-competition cell to process non-competitive hiring actions such as temporary promotions or management reassignments helped human resources teams to close more than 3,000 actions in the past six months, with an end-to-end average of 31 days—less than half of time of the previous average of 70 days.
A centralized selection team for the contracting and logistics career fields is decreasing the time it takes for the command to recruit and hire new entry-level hires. Similar to the way the military assigns entry-level enlisted and officers to teams, selection and assignment relies on the expertise of a central hiring team consisting of subject matter experts and human resources specialists, resulting in faster acquisition of new talent.
A two-year civilian hiring pilot program that realigned Air Force Personnel Center operating location manpower and resources at Hill, Robins, Tinker and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to AFMC began in Oct. 2018, and is better positioning the command to identify and implement process change and efficiencies across the enterprise. The realignment also provides opportunities for teams to identify best practices at individual locations that can be leveraged as enterprise-wide solutions.
Additionally, an effort to automate resume review is under development to help streamline the assessment process. This, coupled with a command-wide resume repository, is creating new opportunities to share resumes collected during recruiting events enterprise-wide in an effort to ensure the right candidate is identified to fill specific hard-to-fill positions across the command.
“As we work through new strategies to recruit an agile civilian workforce, we are harnessing the power of industry tools to produce change,” said Marcae Riggs, chief, AFMC Personnel Programs Branch.
At the Air Force Sustainment Center’s Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, the Pre-Employment Process Center (PEPC) model is used on a biweekly basis to fill open positions at the center. At the PEPC one-day hiring events, candidates are interviewed, receive a tentative job offer, complete pre-employment requirements such as physicals, drug testing and fingerprints, and leave with a firm job offer and projected start date. The average total time to complete the process is less than three hours and has resulted in 500 firm job offers to date.
Pulling off these events requires a lot of planning, teamwork and collaboration to set the stage and ensure the appropriate decision makers are on site to complete the hiring process.
“AFMC has partnered with the AFPC Talent Acquisition Team, center personnel teams, hiring managers and installation personnel offices to ensure events are a success,” said Riggs.
The command also plans to maximize the use of Air Force intern programs such as the Palace Acquire, Copper Cap, Workforce Recruitment Program and the SMART programs to recruit the next generation workforce, particularly focused on the science, engineering and mathematics fields. The Secretary of the Air Force’s Premier College Intern Program, which yielded more than 300 high-caliber interns across the command during the 2018 cycle, will grow to 350 AFMC interns for 2019, training them to become competent, effective and productive employees in mission critical career fields.
An additional 161 recruiting events targeted at the science and engineering career fields are planned for 2019 at locations across the country. A virtual career fair is also planned for early spring.
Civilians play a crucial role in AFMC missions across the spectrum and comprise almost 79 percent of the total command workforce. More than 28,000 civilians deliver engineering, sustainment, logistics and maintenance support impacting every Air Force platform and installation across the globe. Civilian scientists and engineers discover, develop and integrate new warfighting technologies and perform testing on weapon systems, munitions, networks and more. In addition, acquisition and contracting, intelligence, nuclear capabilities and base operational support rely heavily on specialized civilian professionals daily.
“AFMC civilians support the warfighter in every way imaginable. While we are nowhere close to declaring victory, we are making good progress and are focused on developing new strategies that position AFMC as an employer of choice,” said Snodgrass.