Too much exposure to USAJOBS has really turned me cynical. Despite news reports on the need to recruit thousands of new employees, the main federal jobs site is a usability nightmare, unfathomable to even people who work on web sites, like me. While the site has few defenders, some have argued that it has to be that way, because it’s the government. Federal requirements dictate its complexity and difficulty.

There’s got to be another way! And there is. It’s the job site for the Congressional Budget Office. The site is a model of simplicity and common sense, where you can apply for a job in minutes, rather than hours. Let me spell out the differences between the CBO site and USAJOBS:

  • It’s all one site.You’re not bounced to a separate organizational site to complete a whole other application, like you would if you applied for a job with Agriculture from USAJOBS.
  • An easy password. You don’t need a complicated ten character password with upper and lower case letters plus numbers.
  • Upload or copy and paste your documents. Choose which is easier for you – either upload a Word doc or copy and paste your resume. You don’t have to enter information job by job. Supporting docs can also be uploaded.
  • No KSAs.
  • Job descriptions less than a page long, in plain language.
  • No confusing instructions to fax or snail mail in additional information. It’s 100% online.
  • It’s well-designed. The site makes excellent use of white space and provides strong visual cues for users, such as making the “Submit Application” button blue and placing it at the bottom of the right-hand menu.

Why can’t the rest of government do this? The site is not complicated, in fact it looks like it was designed in the late 1990s. But it’s simple and easy for visitors. It’s oriented around their top tasks, as good government sites are supposed to.

Looking at this site, USAJOBS makes even less sense to me.

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

One thought on “USAJOBS vs CBO Job Site”

  1. If only the rest of government had the freedom that congress (and CBO) has. The rest of government has to hire based on MERIT, and a long and continuing series of laws PASSED BY CONGRESS (and legal decisions interpreting those laws) require excruciating detailed advertisements linked back to “job descriptions,” public posting of MERIT CRITERIA (“KSAs”), all to provide open and fair competition and to as well as process transparency.
    USAJOBS is great as far as I can determine. The problem starts when you begin reading the content.

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