By Alyssa CrockettNovember 20, 2018
As part of a new Department of Defense (DoD) direct hiring program, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) welcomed four new employees on Sept 4.
Kailey Heyden, Adam Strubhart, Alan Thomas and Briana Wegmann were among the first wave of new hires for SDDC using the Direct Hire Authority (DHA) for post-secondary students and recent graduates.
The program was outlined in the National Defense Act for fiscal year 2018, which allowed for the Secretary of Defense to appoint highly-qualified, post-secondary students and recent graduates who have completed an associates, bachelors, masters, doctorate, professional, technical or vocational degree or certificate, to be given immediate offers for employment.
This specific DHA eliminates competitive rating and ranking, and veterans' preference - helping expedite the command's ability to recruit and hire scholastic talent for professional occupations.
To be qualified for the offers, graduates must have completed their degree or certificate within the last two years from a qualifying educational institution in order to be hired directly into competitive service positions at the General Schedule (GS)-11 and below.
At an outreach event on May 17 at McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill., supervisors of recruited positions, along with G1/4 Personnel and Logistics Directorate civilian personnel staff who worked in close support with the St. Louis Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC), met with several interested applicants until they found the four perfect fits.
"When meeting the applicants, their maturity, pleasant demeanor, sharp attire, outstanding resumes and excellent interviewing skills are what led us to make offers," said Lance Davidson, SDDC Human Resource Specialist.
According to Davidson, prior to this DHA, candidates were required to create a personal profile, upload transcripts, resumes and other supporting documents, answer supplemental questions and wait for the application process, which could take up to three to four months - sometimes longer.
In today's highly-competitive job market, students and recent graduates can't afford to wait several months for DoD to make a job offer. Traditionally, by the time a DoD offer is extended, top talent have already accepted offers in the private sector and reported to work.
"Overall, I knew getting a job offer in the federal government was extremely difficult to achieve. However, being made an offer that allowed me to quickly and seamlessly enter the government workforce made it an easy decision for me to accept the job," Thomas explained.
To be considered for further review and ensure SDDC is obtaining top talent, candidates must have superior academic achievement with at least a 3.0 grade point average or membership in a national scholastic honor society.
"It is important that we acquire the best and brightest on-campus talent who bring fresh ideas and new tools to the federal government," said Davidson.
Zachary Middendorff, an Information Technology Specialist in the G6 Communications Directorate, was SDDC's first civilian employee hired using DHA.
Middendorff, who reported on July 23, graduated cum laude in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems.
His superior academic achievements include: Dean's List, Leadership Scholarship and one of the nation's highest honor for students--the Presidential Scholarship.
"I chose this job over others because it was a great opportunity for me to grow and learn new things, as well as utilize my skills and knowledge that I obtained throughout my time in school," he explained.
It is possible that recent graduates may endure various difficulties acquiring a career directly out of college -- however, the new DHA has already made an impact on those who have decided to use it.
"Most companies and professionals want someone with a degree and experience. It's hard to get experience when you can't get the job. However, the DHA is a great opportunity for those who recently have graduated to obtain a full time career," said Wegmann.
Currently, this DHA is valid through Sep. 10, 2021, unless extended or made indefinite by further legislation.
With this authority, SDDC has found success in onboarding new employees three months earlier than average, enabling the recruitment and hiring of first-choice recent graduates without losing them to other agencies with faster hiring processes.
"These first authorizations were a major accomplishment. The newly introduced DHA has potential to be a game changer for DoD," concluded Davidson, "SDDC is an excellent example of that."