News and Insights

Faced with a Federal Classifier Shortage? Relief is Available

Joe Abusamra  |  June 6, 2019

It’s no secret that the world of federal job classification has changed substantially over the years.

There is a lot of background to this and what has brought us to this point. Former DHS Chief Human Capital Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer for DLA, Jeff Neal, lays it all out in his recent post, Where Have All the Classifiers Gone?

But the bottom line is that federal HR classifiers are extremely hard to come by for agencies. As Jeff notes, “Ask any HR manager today how easy it is to find an experienced classifier and s/he will most likely just laugh.”


The shortage of federal classifiers can really hamstring agencies as they look to attract and hire exceptional candidates. Good classifiers can be central to an agency’s human capital strategy.

An exceptional federal classifier is more than someone who just researches and creates job descriptions. Rather, the best classifiers are a key component of an agency’s recruiting efforts and are actively involved in finding the talent an agency needs to fulfill its mission — and even retaining that talent.

Classifiers will help ensure the work for the position you are hiring for is clear and accurate, thereby significantly increasing the odds that there is a good fit with your new employee. Otherwise, that new hire will likely be looking for a new job, and soon.


The challenge presented by a shortage of classifiers and the broken classification system is not insurmountable. Forward-thinking federal agencies are addressing the challenge head on — and thriving.

While several organizations provide classes and training for federal employees to build or expand their classification, and the OPM provides a set of handbooks, these fixes are temporary and not designed to lead to long-term success.

A better solution, designed for long-term success, is to implement a turn-key classifier solution. In some cases, this solution can be combined with on-the-job training for agency staff, which gives your agency the ability to receive immediate help, but also grow its internal knowledge.

By taking advantage of an outside firm with extensive federal classification experience, you’ll be able to classify and analyze federal positions for compensation and other purposes. A company with this expertise can provide you and your HR team with insightful analytics, so you’re able to better understand optimal organizational design, and better classify job descriptions that will position your agency for success.

A federal HR consulting firm will not only help you classify federal positions using the Factor Evaluation System (FES), but can also help your employees learn how to do this themselves. Depending on your agency’s needs, other classification areas may include:

  • classification of positions using the narrative system
  • evaluation of positions in various federal HR systems
  • classification of systems using the job-grading system
  • classification of mixed grade/series and interdisciplinary positions
  • classification of federal leader, supervisor, and managerial positions
  • improvement of position management and position descriptions

A turn-key federal classifier solution designed with a proven development program is the best of both worlds — outside expertise and in-house knowledge.

Is there a federal classifier shortage?


Is there relief available?

There is indeed.