Job announcement guidelines

We’ve created guidelines for each section of the job announcement including:

  • What’s required in each section
  • What’s optional in each section
  • Information that has moved to a different section
  • Recommended language to use
  • Do’s and don’ts

The research behind the changes

The changes made with the 6.6 release are based upon the following:

  • 6 months of user research with job seekers, HR specialists, hiring managers, and OPM Policy conducted in 2015.
  • Weeks of research with HR specialists and hiring managers culminating in an experience map for those roles.
  • Several co-design sessions with HR specialists and Talent Acquisition System (TAS) vendors in The Lab at OPM.
  • 7 weeks of focused research with job seekers including card sorts and usability tests of functional prototypes.

Based on the knowledge gathered during this research we have a set a new course for revising the job announcement.

Problems we're trying to solve


In this release, we've attempted to further address the issue of job seekers being unable to determine their eligibility by looking at the announcement. The Who May Apply text is insufficient and the language used within that section varies widely.

We're moving away from unstructured text and towards an enumerated list of hiring paths that can be selected for each job. Right now we are in a transitional period where we leverage the text in the Who May Apply section to determine the hiring path that is displayed in This job is open to. Please work with your Talent Acquisition System (TAS) vendor to move towards using our API to select who the job is open to.

We've analyzed the data provided via Who May Apply and found over 1,600+ unique strings were being used to convey this information. Our hope is that by standardizing the eligibility information into hiring paths and finding new homes for the remaining information that is only loosely related to eligibility we will improve job seeker's ability to traverse the myriad paths available to them. Each hiring path has an extensive page in our Help Center that explains the details of that eligibility. In addition, this change now brings consistency to how we refer to those hiring paths. You'll see consistent use of iconography for each path throughout the site (landing page, search, job announcement; profile to follow).

We understand that this transition has been difficult and we appreciate your patience. It is critical that this work continues in order to drive down the number of ineligible applicants.

Duplicative information

There was wide agreement from our research among job seekers, HR specialists, and hiring managers that job announcements contain duplicative information. This release is the start of correcting this problem.

We've analyzed a large number of job announcements and identified over 100 individual pieces of information that are conveyed in an announcement. That analysis is not complete and is ongoing. However, this website is the start of providing guidance on what information we expect to be conveyed in the parts of the job announcement. We hope to continue to expand and improve the information in this site with your help.

Job summary is not a summary of the job

Another problem we've addressed is the lack of job summary which job seekers need in order to understand whether to invest the time to read the entire announcement. We have provided a place for agencies to communicate their mission and provide a link to additional information in the agency modal. There are no fewer than three links to this information throughout the announcement. We hope that will free up the job summary to focus on explaining what the job seeker would be doing in that job.


In August of 2016, we ran a job announcement pilot with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. For that pilot, we created a plain language job announcement that follows the guidelines found here. This example may help as you read through the guidelines.

CFPB job announcement

We've also posted job announcements in our staging environment that reflect many of the changes we've been making:

More to come

We know we have a lot more work to do on the job announcement. We continue to conduct pilots with agencies where we explore and evaluate changes. We will continue to work on helping job seekers determine if they are qualified, understand government language, and understand their eligibility.

If you have questions about the ideal hiring model or want to evaluate your own hiring practices we recommend the Hiring Process Analysis Tool.