Creating a SME-QA job announcement

When the content of your well-written job announcement is complete, create a draft announcement on USAJOBS.

Agencies using the SME-QA process can use a special, plain-language USAJOBS job opportunity announcement (JOA) template created for this assessment strategy. The template pre-populates many of the JOA posting requirements, including the required Legal and Regulatory Guidance section. To create your JOA, simply complete the unpopulated sections, as necessary.

While you’ll continue to use the occupational questionnaire to gather general biographical information about the applicant, you won’t use the self-rated assessment portion of the questionnaire. Instead, the assessment or assessments you’ve documented serve as the examination.

1. Title

Use a clear title that qualified applicants will recognize as encompassing their skills. If your job is open to the public, use a title common to the private sector for the same position - you do not need to copy the official title on the PD. Ideally, the PD might refer to the unofficial title, but this is not required. Use of unofficial titles is very common for recruitment purposes to better describe the nature of the position.

Source: 5 U.S.C. § 5105 Standards for classification of positions

  • (c) The official class titles established under subsection (a)(2) of this section shall be used for personnel, budget, and fiscal purposes. However, this requirement does not prevent the use of organizational or other titles for internal administration, public convenience, law enforcement, or similar purposes.

2. Overview

To ensure your hiring process will be manageable for participating SMEs, clearly state your limit on the number of applications that will be reviewed. Consider the options in this table for limiting applications.

Suggested Text Benefits Risks
“The agency will consider applications from the first XXX applicants who complete their submission.” SMEs will only need to review XXX applications. Due to applicant volume on USAJOBS, announcement may close very shortly after it’s posted, possibly after a couple of hours. Depending on when the announcement is posted, this limited timeframe may occur outside business hours in other US time zones.
“This announcement will close at midnight on the day that XXX applications are received.” Your announcement will remain open through midnight on the day it’s posted, allowing interested people to apply after regular work hours. Your SMEs may be required to review more than XXX applications.

3. Duties

Duties should be informed by the job tasks you documented during job analysis. Place the most important job duties as the first few bullets.

If you are posting for multiple speciality areas (not typical) and, during job analysis, your SMEs determine that applicants should be allowed to apply for one or more of those specialty areas, include the following language in this section (modifying the specific number as appropriate):

You may apply for up to two (2) specialty areas using the Apply button at the bottom of the page. If you choose more than (2) you will be considered only for the first two selected in the order they are listed.

4. Qualifications

List all competencies developed during job analysis to describe the minimum qualifications for the position. If essential to the position, you can describe specific recency requirements when skills obtained many years ago would not be relevant to the work being performed. For example, a technical position may require experience with modern cloud technologies gained within the last three years.

Include only the competencies developed with SMEs during job analysis as the qualifications for your position. You should not cut and paste the OPM Qualification Standards nor from the Position Description. In accordance with Federal regulations and OPM guidance, you must conduct a job analysis to define the specialized experience required, which our pilots present in the form of competencies and proficiency levels.

5. Required Documents

To attract both public and private sector applicants, limit the number of pages of work history that SMEs will review on a resume based on what was decided during your job analysis workshop. From the OPM Delegated Examination Handbook (page 42):

While the format (including length) of a résumé cannot be restricted, you may place a reasonable limit on the number of pages of a résumé that will be reviewed as part of your initial qualification determination. This limit must be clearly explained in the job opportunity announcement. You may not automatically screen-out applicants who submit résumés of longer lengths. For example, you may state in your job opportunity announcement, “Please limit your résumé to 5 pages. If more than 5 pages are submitted, only the first 5 pages will be reviewed to determine your eligibility/qualifications.

Requesting documents from federal employees

The job announcement template created for this assessment strategy requests an SF-50 from current or former federal employees in order to assist HR in confirming the applicant’s grade before the certificate is issued. However, failure to include the document would not prevent an applicant from moving forward. If necessary, an SF-50 can be obtained from the applicant’s agency before the certificate is issued.

6. This Job Is Open To

When posting your job to the public, select only The public, which encompasses veterans and other groups. This section isn’t a recruitment advertisement, and selecting additional options makes it unclear to applicants who is eligible to apply. However, if your agency policy dictates other selections then follow that guidance.

7. Assessment Strategy

Use the “How You Will Be Evaluated” section to describe that applicants will be examined by subject matter experts using a structured interview process, then describe your phases. You should have established this information with SMEs during the job analysis workshop when you documented your assessment strategy.

Example "How You Will Be Evaluated" section

The technical qualifications for this position will be evaluated by subject matter experts. Apply only if you meet the qualifications.

Resume review

Subject matter experts will review the first three pages of your resume to determine your technical qualifications for your chosen role(s) based on the required competencies.

Qualifying phone interviews

If the subject matter experts determine that your resume reflects the required competencies, you will have at least one phone interview to further assess whether your experience meets the required competencies for your chosen role(s). You may meet with more than one subject matter expert for a determination to be made.

Ranking and preference

Preference will be applied to applicants who move forward after the qualifying phone interviews.

Future consideration

If you are not selected for this position you may be considered for similar positions at the agency for up to one year from the date the certificates are issued.

Where to input information in USA Staffing

To use the SME-QA template you'll need to enter data into different fields than you may be accustomed to within USA Staffing. Below are details on where to input information into USA Staffing in order to have it appear in the correct place in the SME-QA job announcement template.

Overview and locations

1. Overview

No changes.

2. Locations

No changes.

USA Staffing announcement text screenshot of page one

Agency Marketing

3. Marketing message

What: Text detailing the office/unit/ group the individual will belong to.

Where: This text will appear in two places:

  1. The Agency pop-up window which appears when a user clicks on the agency name link in the header of the announcement.
  2. How you’ll work with - First paragraph.

4. Marketing link

What: A link to the office/unit/group the applicant would belong to.

Where: This text will appear in two places:

  1. The Agency pop-up window which appears when a user clicks on the agency name link in the header of the announcement.
  2. Where you’ll work - Below the first paragraph.

5. Benefits link

This link appears in the Benefits section as it does in the current announcement.

USA Staffing announcement text screenshot of page two


6. Summary

What: Job summary

Where: Appears under the header “Summary” at the top of the job announcement.

USA Staffing announcement text screenshot of duties

Position Requirements

7. Qualifications

What: The first paragraph of the qualifications and the list of competencies.

Where: Appears under the header “Qualifications”.

Format: Use a bulleted list with competency name in bold.

USA Staffing announcement text screenshot of page three

Application Requirements

8. How you will be evaluated

This text is a part of the Job Opportunity Announcement pilot layout and cannot be changed.

9. Required Documents

This text is a part of the Job Opportunity Announcement pilot layout and cannot be changed.

USA Staffing announcement text screenshot of page four