Better Decades Later Than Never: The "Rule of Three" is Slated for an Overhaul
By Nanci Lamborn, SPHR and BrightMove Recruiting Software.
Last year I had the misfortunate displeasure of joining the ranks of the unemployed. Like my downsized HR-type counterparts, I applied to any and every job posting with anything close to the words “human resources” located somewhere within the job posting (hopefully sidestepping any jobs with testing on human subjects or human shield in the KSA specs). Surprisingly I found several Human Resources job postings by various factions within the Federal Government, some of which also surprisingly seemed (after reading the three-page specs sheet) to fit my skill-set.
Sure, I could work for the Feds. Why not? Lots of obscure holidays, some of the best benefits and perks on the planet, http://tinyurl.com/2b4hymf, and likely given some of my run-ins with various other federal employees, there’s a fairly good chance it can be a lifelong gig even if I’m mediocre. So I began the daunting application process, an incredibly painful and detailed three-plus hour project of voluminous verbosity which left my temporal lobe in a total shambles. But apply, I did, and the waiting began.
I did receive a form letter acknowledging that my application had been successfully received and I would be contacted if they determined me to be a match for their requirements… three months after I had submitted my information and was already quite happily reemployed in the so-called private sector. And three more months later, a full six months after applying, I received another form letter informing me that I was no longer under consideration for the job.
Turns out this response sequence was precisely the Fed’s M.O. due to a pre-19th century hiring practice known as the Rule of Three. http://tinyurl.com/2c4r69c. The concept has its admirable elements, but like many other processes implemented by our wonderful government, the executed reality is, well, it’s exactly the disaster that I and many other well-qualified applicants experienced, and it continues to result in superior candidates being lost to more efficiently administered opportunities.
Apparently attempts to overhaul this dinosaur have been around The Hill for quite some time http://tinyurl.com/272czvx. So why this particular legislation is going to have a more effective go at it I’m not certain. But overhauled it shall be, if the current mandates and deadlines are achieved as directed http://tinyurl.com/2boreao.
While this move (if achieved) should be a very positive one, there is a tremendous lesson to be learned at the expense of the Feds in all of this. First, even some of the very best policies and procedures can sound ideal in theory but be severely flawed in execution. And a second and perhaps more critical lesson is that, unless it’s an issue of life, limb, or law, enforcement of policy must be accompanied by the latitude for objective interpretation and exceptions to the rule. Hopefully an additional lesson will be available for the learning after this process is indeed overhauled and high-quality candidates are indeed hired for federal jobs quickly and efficiently, if any are still left.
Nanci Lamborn, SPHR, is a freelance writer and a senior generalist with a global investment software firm based in Atlanta, GA.
BrightMove is a leading provider of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) recruiting software and talent acquisition solutions for staffing, Outsourcing and corporate HR recruiting.
Incorporated in 2003, BrightMove has quickly grown to become a system of choice for recruiters who want to use advanced tools designed to find and manage only the best of talent. With more 60 clients worldwide including Subaru of America and Maidenform, BrightMove is one of fastest-growing ATS providers in the industry.