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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


This guide introduces a number of terms and concepts that may be new to the user. The following definitions will help orient the user to the language used throughout the guide.

Job requirements are the specific, definable requirements that reflect the employment needs in your agency. Identified through strategic workforce planning and analysis, they are best understood as the end objectives of your workforce planning efforts - what you are trying to accomplish in terms of the numbers, occupations and other characteristics of employees you seek to hire and retain. As a whole, they represent the workforce for which you will need to build an appealing work environment.

Work environment refers to the qualities and characteristics of the experience of working in your agency. Put simply, it is an expression of what it is like to work in your organization - the employer-employee relationships and work setting. Understanding which aspects of your work environment appeal to applicants and which do not can help you prioritize work environment changes.

A Career Pattern Scenario is a configuration of values across five Career Pattern Dimensions. As such, each particular scenario characterizes a segment of the general labor market that has similar expectations for the kind of work environment that is appealing. This guide explores ten distinct Career Pattern Scenarios: Student, New Professional, Mid-Career Professional, Retiree, Highly Mobile, Revolving, Term, Mission-Focused, Experienced Professional, and Requires Flexibilities.

Career Pattern Dimensions are key aspects of the work environment that must be understood and shaped in order to appeal to workers in a particular Career Pattern Scenario. The Career Patterns initiative uses the five dimensions shown on page 4.

Categorization refers to the process and outcome of matching particular job requirements with one or more Career Pattern Scenarios. It is a first step toward the goal of building desirable and effective work environments.

Core Values are the fundamental beliefs, interests, demands and concerns that individuals hold. Research indicates particular constellations of these core values are associated with various Career Pattern Scenarios. Keeping these values in mind when appealing to potential employees from a particular scenario can effectively focus recruitment efforts.

Work Attractors are those features of employer-employee relationships and work arrangements that engage interest and commitment from job applicants and employees, in part based on their significance for related core values. Providing information about work attractors is essential for effectively recruiting across Career Pattern Scenarios and Dimensions.

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