Job placement services expandThe Office of Personnel...

Newswatch . . . on federal workers

January 22, 1992|By Carol Emert | Carol Emert,States News Service

Job placement services expand

The Office of Personnel Management offers a number of placement services for federal employees seeking career changes or new locations, defense workers who have lost their jobs due to downsizing, recent college and high school graduates and for other job-seekers.

Three weeks ago, OPM's job hot line expanded to the Midwest and the West Coast, allowing people to seek jobs with federal agencies in all 50 states.

The Career America Connection hot line costs 40 cents a minute, according to Leonard Klein, OPM's assistant director for career entry.

Callers are asked about their educational background, work history, the type of job they are seeking, and where in the United States they wish to work. The caller is then informed about which agencies are hiring and where.

The service received about 2,500 calls a month when it was offered only on the East Coast, Mr. Klein said. The number of callers is expected to increase substantially with the broadened access. The hot line number is (900) 990-9200, and use of a Touch-Tone phone is recommended.

A special service for recent college graduates is offered at the same number. Job candidates can leave names, addresses and other information and OPM will send them the appropriate job applications and set them up for written tests, Mr. Klein said. Before the new system was in place, people seeking federal jobs would have to visit the nearest OPM information center. There are 41 such centers around the country, Mr. Klein said.

New careers:

Another special OPM service, the Defense Outplacement Referral System, is available for military personnel who are losing their jobs due to downsizing. Currently, 5,000 recipients of Department of Defense pink slips have registered with the service through the personnel office on their base, Mr. Klein said.

Applicant information is submitted to a computer data base which federal agencies seeking employees can access by telephone. Within about 45 minutes, the agency receives a fax with the names and addresses of applicants who fit the designated job profile, Mr. Klein said.

Summer jobs:

In a typical year, the federal government offers some 30,000 summer jobs, primarily to students and recent graduates. This is not a typical year, and fewer jobs are expected to be available due to budget constraints. Summer job seekers can write to their local OPM office for an application and information booklet. In Baltimore, write to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Edward A. Garmatz Federal Building, 101 W. Lombard St., Baltimore 21201.

Local jobs:

The Baltimore branch of OPM has experienced a surge of applicants for federal jobs in recent weeks, according to Lloyd Bowser, a recruitment manager. In the past, about 30 people showed up for each of the two weekly clerical tests, Mr. Bowser said. But as the economy continues to worsen, job-seekers have been turned away from the testing center that seats 85.

The test, which measures basic mathematics and English skills, is offered every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Recent college graduates interested in careers with the government can take the Administrative Careers with America examination.

Job openings are currently available in business finance and management, personnel administration and computers, law enforcement and investigation, and legal benefits and taxation. Midlevel job vacancies are available for candidates with master's degrees, or bachelor's degrees and work experience. New listings are posted on the 1st and 16th of every month.

People with disabilities should contact the selective placement coordinator at the agency they wish to join, Mr. Bowser said. Employment examinations may be waived in the case of severe disabilities, he said.

The Baltimore office, which also posts listings for jobs in Washington, is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for self-service information. A staff member is present from 1 to 3 p.m.

Open season ending:

Government employees have until Jan. 31 to sign up for the Thrift Savings Plan. The pension plan offers three investment opportunities in stocks, bonds and Treasury securities.

The C Fund, or common stock index fund, is invested in the stocks of 500 companies selected by Standard and Poor's to broadly represent the stock market. Investing in the C Fund is risky because investors sink or swim with the stock market. In 1991 it produced a rate of return of 30.77 percent, but in 1990 the return was negative -- investors lost 3.15 percent of their investment.

The F Fund, or fixed income fund, invests in the Shearson Lehman Hutton aggregate index, which consists of more than 300 investment-grade bond issues by corporations and government entities. The F Fund's rate of return in 1991 was 15.75 percent.

The G Fund, or government fund, is invested in treasury securities. It offers a stable 8.15 percent rate of return.

Participants in the Civil Service Retirement System pension plan may invest up to 5 percent of their pay. Those in the Federal Employees Retirement System will get dollar-for-dollar matching funds on investments of up to 3 percent of their salary, and a

50-cent match on the 4th and 5th percents. The next open season will be May 15 through July 31.

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