Internet Applicants to the State of Washington: A Demographic Analysis

Article excerpt


The Washington State Department of Personnel (DOP) provides human resource services to approximately 70 state agencies as well as the higher education institutions with a combined workforce of approximately 113,000. (1) In October of 2001, DOP launched an innovative internet application system dubbed "INET" A previous article in Public Personnel Management (2) detailed how this system was developed and the associated challenges; the system was discussed further in an IPMA Assessment Council Conference presentation. (3)

In brief, DOP developed INET in response to complaints that the hiring process was paper-driven, cumbersome, and slow. With INET, applicants logged onto DOP's website ( and, after creating a personal profile that includes their educational and work history, could take on-line exams for any exam they qualify for. The INET exams primarily focused on previous training and experience and were created based on input from subject matter experts in the classification. In addition to the exam, individuals were also able to select from a menu of "skill codes" that included a mix of willingness statements (e.g., "willing to work in a prison or other correctional facility"), education/training obtained, and other items that referred to specific knowledge, skills, or abilities (KSAs). Over 200,000 applications were submitted using INET during its lifecycle. In February. of 2006, 255 job classifications were available for application through INET, including but not limited to jobs in:

* Human Resources

* Corrections

* Customer Service

* Food Service

* Engineering

* Nursing

* Information Technology

Study Method

In the fall of 2005, DOP information technology staff, at the author's request, developed a web-based reporting system that allows for detailed analysis of individuals who have applied for employment with the state of Washington. (4) This system was used to perform the analyses in this article, which were done to investigate the diversity of applicants using INET. The demographic categories used are those that applicants were given to choose from on a voluntary basis. For this analysis, only classifications that received at least one application or were otherwise available for analysis were included. In addition, demographic analyses included are only for those individuals that submitted an entire application, including Equal Employment Opportunity. (EEO) information. With the exception of Tables 1a and 1b, number totals, when given, are summed from the two gender categories because gender was the most commonly disclosed EEO category.


Most Popular Jobs

Table 1a shows the overall number of applications submitted through INET for the 10 jobs that received the most applications and Table 1b shows the same information for the 10 jobs that received the fewest.

The classifications with the most applications are primarily entry-level and clerical in nature, involving a good deal of customer service and general office skills. Applicants also expressed a strong interest in Correctional Officer and human resource consulting jobs. Entry into most of these jobs often requires little formal education beyond high school or at most one to two years of relevant experience. Not surprisingly, the classifications with the fewest applications are primarily professional and/or technical in nature. These classifications typically have higher minimum/desired qualifications and comparable positions in the private sector tend to pay significantly more than the state does.

Comparisons across Ethnicity

One advantage of the current dataset is the ability to analyze application patterns across ethnicities using a large number of individuals in different ethnic categories. Table 2 contains the overall frequencies of self-identified ethnic category of the applicants to date. …