[IPAC-List] veterans' preference
Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Thu May 5 14:22:12 EDT 2011
Here's a somewhat different perspective.
In the Canadian federal system there are what we refer to as "priority
entitlements". Those with such entitlements include a number of
different categories, but the largest share are those who are displaced
from a permanent position for reasons not of their own doing (e.g., an
acquired disability, cessation of the program or other workforce
reduction, spousal relocation, etc.), and those who receive a medical
discharge from either the military or the RCMP. It is considered part
of the employer's ethical obligation to permanent staff, and is also
thought of as a means to avoid bleeding talent.
The "entitlement" is that hiring managers must consider their
file/application first, before any others. If the candidate ("priority
referral") meets the qualifications for the position, they get it. If
the manager feels there is some manner in which they do not fit the
requirements for the job, they are obliged to provide a written defence
of their rejection of the referral. The referrals themselves, in turn,
have right of first refusal, although this is a time-limited right
(i.e., you can't spend years turning up your nose at jobs).
The mechanism for this is that all advertised positions have to come
through our central agency and managers have to get "priority clearance"
before they can proceed with the staffing process. This allows the
folks who manage the inventory of those with priority entitlements to be
able to know what is currently available and sift through the inventory
in search of a good match. Since nobody really wants the paperwork
involved when a rejection occurs, it is in the best interests of those
managing the inventory to be exquisite matchmakers and refer only those
who are truly suited to the posted position, such that the likelihood of
the referral being acceptable to the manager, and the job being
acceptable to the referred person, is high.
Here is where we leave the nicely-paved interstate, and veer off onto
the gravel side road.
Priority entitlements apply right up to the point where an appointment
has been made. Let us say, as a manager, you have obtained priority
clearance for the process you're running, and the week you and your
selection board are sifting through the files of all those folks you've
tested and interviewed (but haven't decided among yet), somebody gets
added to the roster of those with priority entitlements. The inventory
administrator recognizes that this new addition is a good fit to the
job, that person gets referred to you, and you still have to give them
first consideration, regardless of how much time you've already put in.
Fair is fair, and fair is always more effort, and a little frustrating
As you can well imagine, these last-minute entries are a regular source
of consternation to both managers and candidates, if the thousands of
survey comments I've read through are any indication. The manager
thinks "What the hell was I wasting all that time for, if I *have* to
hire this person anyway?". The candidate, of course, is often in the
dark with respect to what is going on with the manager and the rules
concerning priority referrals, and unaware that the manager might have
received a late entry, might perceive this as some sort of bureaucratic
As I read the candidate comments, I was taken aback by how many working
on the civilian side at National Defence were venting about what they
thought was cronyism and corruption in hiring. What they saw from their
end was a drawn-out hiring process that ended in someone from the
military side waltzing in at the last moment and getting the job. What
they inferred was that it was the manager's "retired" military buddy.
What they didn't know was that a significant share of those who receive
medical discharge from the military and thus acquire priority
entitlements, do so by virtue of post-traumatic stress disorder, and
thus do not appear *visibly* disabled. Moreover, that vet is not to stroll over to the other folks in the work unit who might have
applied for that job and say "Hi, I'm Bob. I wake up every night in a
sweat screaming because I've seen things no human should ever see.
Great to be working with you!", and very likely does not want it to be
conveyed to staff that they are disabled. They are simply understood to
be "retired" from the military. National Defence, of course, does not
publicize that "some of your co-workers might have PTSD, so be
considerate", and any vets in that position prefer they be viewed as
able rather than disabled.
I mention all of this to emphasize that there are some significant
communication challenges when it comes to implementing preference
systems of any kind, regardless of how well-intentioned and on the side
of the angels they may be. Vets deserve preference, but the manner in
which that takes place, and the reasons for it, may not be patently
obvious to staff and other candidates. Hiring managers would like to
have a free hand in hiring, and the underlying wisdom and compassion in
such preference systems may not be on the front burner for them,
requiring some persuasion.
So, in the grand scheme of things, however you folks in Oregon decide
to work this out and implement it, make every effort to think about the
communication of your system to managers, non-managerial staff, and
applicants. They need to believe in the rightness of your staffing
system, and it would be a shame if their trust was undermined by the
very things you're doing because it's the right thing to do.
happy Cinco de Mayo
>>> "Aamodt, Michael G" <maamodt at RADFORD.EDU> 2011/05/05 1:12 PM >>>
Interesting proposal. An unintended consequence of veterans preference
rights such as that proposed by Oregon is that fewer women will probably
be hired. Given that about 85% of people currently active in the
military are men, it would seem that there is an increased likelhood for
adverse impact. Thus a bill with good intentions might end up hurting
Michael G. Aamodt, Ph.D. (Mike)
Department of Psychology
Radford, VA 24142-6946
maamodt at radford.edu
From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org [ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org] On
Behalf Of Partain, Steven C. [Steven.Partain at tvfr.com]
Sent: Thursday, May 05, 2011 10:56 AM
To: 'ipac-list at ipacweb.org'
Subject: [IPAC-List] veterans' preference
The Oregon legislature is considering a bill to obligate public
employers to interview all veterans who qualify for preference under
state law. The rationale behind the effort apparently is to get
veterans past initial screening and give them a chance to articulate how
they might have transferable skills that are worthy of consideration.
As much as we and other public agencies support veteran reintegration
and the challenges of mapping military experience to the civilian world,
we have a number of concerns about the notion of forcing interviews.
Our biggest concern is that we have increasingly opted against using
oral interviews as a selection tool, choosing instead other selection
tools such as situational judgment tests, simulations, etc. We
typically do conduct an interview, but that's usually at the very end of
the series of selection steps. And for civil service positions, that
interview phase isn't even part of the process to establish the eligible
list (for exampl
e, entry-level firefighter). Being obligated to advance all veterans
to that step would likely force us to rethink our process. We're
working with the sponsors of the bill to clarify that only veterans who
meet the minimum qualifications would advance to interviews, which will
help some, but not entirely.
I'm wondering if folks on this list have any helpful comments from the
perspective of selection theory and best practices that relate. The
main proponents of the bill have the perspective that thethe lynchpin of the standard selection process, that it occurs as
initial step just after applications are screened, and our agency is an
outlier in putting it so late in the process.
Is anyone else facing similar efforts in other states?
Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue
11945 SW 70th Avenue, Tigard, Oregon 97223
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