May 2016
Issue Map
The Public Manager

Michelle Earley

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The federal government's USAJOBS platform, designed for job seekers hoping to find a position in the public sector, has been maligned for its user-unfriendliness. As the USAJOBS program manager, Michelle Earley leads six- to eight-week development scrums designed to roll out various fixes to the platform.


About Michelle Earley

Michelle Earley began her career in software delivery as a PeopleSoft trainer before moving to the federal HR sector. For more than 10 years, Earley has worked in the government, from a project manager at the Department of Homeland Security to a leadership position—the director of the program management office—at the Department of Treasury. She began working with Agile project management at the Department of Treasury and ultimately took that experience to the Office of Personnel Management, where she is the USAJOBS program manager.

What do you hope to accomplish in both the short and long term while working on USAJOBS?

In the short term, I concentrate on managing a sustainable program office with a diverse and capable team. I ensure they have and continue to acquire the skills and experience they need. A high-functioning team that is engaged and collaborative drives our success. In the long term, I am leading an integrated team of program staff, designers, and developers to transform USAJOBS into a strategic recruitment tool that serves job seekers and federal agencies in matching the right talent to the right jobs. I also believe that the methodologies we are leveraging in the design process will be applicable in other technology projects beyond the USAJOBS redesign and that we are innovating not only to the benefit of job seekers and our agency partners but to the tech industry as well.

From a management perspective, what has been positive and negative about six- to eight-week development scrums?


There are certainly more positives than negatives in utilizing an Agile development process to deliver functionality every six to eight weeks. Agile development reduces risk by incrementally building and testing the solution with the end users over time. It allows for adjustments based on the feedback to improve the experience sooner rather than later. Lastly, the small sprint cycles afford the team a focused delivery that can be easily measured to drive future changes. Having the bandwidth for end-user testing is our biggest challenge with short sprint cycles, especially with a mobile-friendly, responsive website. We are now testing functionality across multiple platforms and devices.

How has your experience in the public sector been similar to or different from your experience in the private sector?

The key difference is serving a mission rather than profit. I am passionate about public service. I remind my staff often about our responsibility to provide a service that meets users' needs and expectations, and how these efforts translate into a greater opportunity for applicants to find their dream job. If we attract the right talent to the right jobs, our service will contribute to sending astronauts to Mars, curing diseases, protecting the American homeland, and so much more.

There are parallels between my private and public sector experiences that include developing a career path through positive, enriching experiences. The federal government has provided me the same opportunities for advancement and job satisfaction, while also allowing me to serve not only my team at USAJOBS and the federal government, but the American people as well.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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