Says Uncle Sam: "Take 500 people and reign in the volatile and esoteric options trading that did so much damage to the economy last year." Talk about a thankless task.
Nevertheless, a bumper crop of job applications are flowing into the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. And Catherine McCoy, the agency's HR director, said they represent a particularly talented lot.
McCoy recently sat down with FINS to dish on recruiting for one of D.C.'s least-known but most important regulatory agencies.
FINS: Everyone says it's a 'buyer's market' for talent, do you find that to be true?
Catherine McCoy: Yes, our current recruitment experience does support that it is a 'buyer's market.' This is evidenced by both the quality and quantity of individuals seeking employment with the CFTC. We have seen our applicant pool double and in some cases triple for our mission-critical positions, like attorneys, economists, auditors.
FINS: What, in particular, are you looking for in candidates now?
McCoy: The CFTC is looking for professional staff with strong financial experience and analytical skills who are also technologically savvy.
FINS: How has this changed since last summer?
McCoy: The volume and quality of applicants has significantly increased.
FINS: What's the best way for a potential candidate to approach the CFTC?
McCoy: Visit the CFTC Web site and follow the "Find a job at the CFTC" link or they call the Office of Human Resources at (202) 418-5003 to obtain a complete listing of vacancies.
FINS: Can you provide a size and scope of recent and/or planned hiring?
McCoy: We are currently recruiting to fill 95 positions under our 2009 Priority Hiring program. This includes mission-critical, as well as critical administrative support jobs like those in information technology. After several years of extremely limited hiring, we are also able to backfill positions vacated through normal attrition. We hope that with the support of Congress and the raised visibility of our agency's role in helping regulate healthy financial markets, we will be able to continue a strong hiring program over the next few years.
FINS: Any notable changes in the CFTC compensation/benefits package?
McCoy: The agency has recently decided to increase its contribution to employees' Federal Employees Health Benefits to cover 85% of the cost, as opposed to the average agency contribution of approximately 75%. We expect this to be a major recruitment incentive. We have also announced the addition of a Life Cycle program for CFTC employees, which will provide employees with an annual taxable reimbursement for expenses related to their wellness or quality of life not covered by current insurance or benefits program, such as gym membership, elder/dependent care, health insurance for domestic partners, Bar dues for attorneys or membership in other professional associations. The CFTC already provides free dental coverage and salaries comparable to other federal financial regulators, which run higher than the General Schedule.
FINS: What was CFTC's turnover last year?
McCoy: Last year's attrition rate was just under 7%.
FINS: Do you expect that to increase or decrease this year?
McCoy: So far this year we are running around 3%, which is an historical low for the agency and probably reflects the impact of the economy on employees' financial ability to retire. We anticipate attrition rates will start returning to more normal levels once the economy strengthens.
FINS: What advice do you have for someone who has been laid off recently?
McCoy: Consider Federal employment! It offers an opportunity for meaningful and rewarding public service career, as well as excellent pay and benefits.