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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


Through research and discussion, we have applied the Career Pattern Dimensions and identified Career Pattern Scenarios that describe the particular characteristics of ten types of individuals who could help broaden the pool of potential employees for Federal Government jobs. These ten Career Pattern Scenarios are good starting points for attracting additional employees to the Federal civilian workforce. However, the ten scenarios we explore in depth in this guide are by no means exhaustive, and we encourage agencies to develop and use their own Career Pattern Scenarios.

Each of the ten Career Pattern Scenarios we identified is related principally, but not exclusively, to one of the Career Pattern Dimensions, as shown below.



Time in Career

• Student
• New Professional*
• Mid-Career Professional*
• Retiree


• Highly Mobile


• Revolving
• Term


• Mission-Focused
• Experienced Professional*
   (specific fields)

Flexible Arrangements

• Requires Flexibilities

* In these scenarios, the term "Professional" is used to denote applicant experience, rather than its specialized Federal HR meaning, i.e., an occupation that has a positive education requirement.

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An Initial Set of Career Pattern Scenarios

In the following diagrams and descriptions of Career Pattern Scenarios, we identify where typical individuals who fit the Career Pattern Scenario would be placed along each of the five Career Pattern Dimensions. For each scenario, we also present:

  • the core values and work attractors for typical potential employees who fit the scenario
  • relevant human resources management policies and practices that are particularly promising for that scenario, and
  • considerations for attracting and retaining potential employees under the scenario.

The next 20 pages are to be viewed in pairs. One such pair of pages from the ten sets that follow is shown in miniature below. The left-hand page provides a quick view of a Career Pattern Scenario by showing the location on each Career Pattern Dimension that characterizes a typical individual who fits that scenario. It also presents a brief description of the scenario. The right-hand page presents Core Values, Work Attractors, Human Resources Policies/Programs To Leverage, and considerations to Support Recruitment and Retention under that scenario.

Quick view of a Career Pattern Scenario and description

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