Shutterstock image ID: 569172169 By Zenzen

OPM overhauls process for identifying new cyber talent

Shutterstock image ID: 569172169 By Zenzen 

To address a critical need for cybersecurity personnel in the federal workforce, the Office of Personnel Management is overhauling its aptitude tests and other assessments used in recruiting needed IT talent.

In a memo issued to agency heads on Feb. 27, OPM Director Dale Cabaniss highlighted five assessments that agencies should use when determining an applicant's technical abilities: cognitive ability, structured interviews, biodata tests, situational judgment tests, personality tests, and training and experience point methods.

"Federal subject matter experts recommend the Federal government pursue a whole person approach for cybersecurity aptitude assessment for reskilling and the selection of new talent," Cabaniss wrote. "The whole person approach should incorporate a mix of assessments that evaluate both cognitive and interpersonal competencies, as well as technical cybersecurity related knowledge, skills, and abilities."

The specific aptitude assessments the memo mentioned were "coding challenges, work samples, computerized adaptive testing, and similar types of testing."

The memo follows a May 2019 executive order issued to expand the federal government's cybersecurity workforce, a multiagency effort with OPM, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education and the Office of Management and Budget.

Margaret Weichert, OMB's outgoing deputy director for management, piloted a Cyber Reskilling Academy for federal workers looking to retrain in a new technical field during her tenure as acting OPM director.

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