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U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Ensuring the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce

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Career Patterns Guide


As a starting point for developing the new mindset a Career Patterns approach to hiring uses, this section provides some Career Patterns basics. A few dimensions for understanding Career Patterns are introduced and discussed briefly. Then those dimensions are applied to create and explore some scenarios where the Career Patterns approach is developed and illustrated further. Terms used throughout the guide are also defined in this section.

Career Pattern Dimensions

OPM's focus on Career Patterns recognizes that employer-employee relationships will increasingly vary across many dimensions. We are considering such determinants as:

  • Time in career (early, middle, late, returning annuitants)
  • Mobility (among agencies, between public and private sectors)
  • Permanence (seasonal/intermittent, long-term, revolving, temporary, students)
  • Mission-focus (program-based, project managers)
  • Flexible arrangements (detached from office, job sharers, non-traditional time of day, part-time, irregular schedule)

The diagram below illustrates the Career Pattern Dimensions and clarifies them further. These dimensions offer insights to both individuals and to work situations. Each employee - or potential employee - can be characterized by identifying the point on each dimension that best matches his or her description or interests. Similarly, each civil service position can be categorized by identifying the range along each dimension that could characterize an effective working arrangement for an employee who fills the position.

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