Human Resources Specialist

Website Smithsonian Institution


This is the position of Human Resources Specialist, Human Resources Department of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The purpose of the position is to plan, organize and independently carry out a wide variety of responsibilities in areas such as recruitment and placement, position classification, management-employee relations, performance appraisals and visa processing for assigned organization within the observatory.

NOTE:  This position is telework eligible, however, selected candidate will be required to work onsite 3 days per week.


  • Recruit and place Federal and Trust Fund employees in open positions at all levels including administrative, technical, scientific, wage board, etc. This process entails evaluation of the position description and grade level as submitted by the supervisor in accordance with USOPM classification
    standards and guidelines set forth by EEO/AA. Positions are posted internally, on USAJobs, SI Pinpoint, and advertised with appropriate media. In conjunction with the hiring supervisor, the incumbent
    determines selective factors, job analyses, competencies and rating plans for positions and evaluates qualifications of candidates. Incumbent will make significant effort to increase recruitment sources for special programs by developing innovative recruiting plans.
    2. Classify a variety of position descriptions at all levels (as a result of new positions, reevaluations of
    existing positions, for promotions, etc.) in accordance with USOPM position classification standards.
    Perform desk audits of positions as required or upon special request.
    3. Calculate severance payment for SAO employees (both Trust Fund and Federal) who are affected by Staff Reductions. Must be familiar with appropriate rules, regulations and procedures as outlined in the Smithsonian Institution Staff Handbooks and the Federal Personnel Manual. Is responsible for advising managers and supervisors regarding severance and staff reduction policies, including notification deadlines, appeal rights, benefits after staff reduction, etc. Must be cognizant of rules regarding
    unemployment compensation in states where employees are located. Counsels employees who have been affected by staff reductions including outlining benefits, monitoring severance payments, assisting in resume preparation and outplacement referrals whenever possible and requested by division/department.
    4. Assists supervisors in handling performance problems, adverse actions, referrals to
    Employee Assistance Programs, promotions, merit increases, quality and within grade increases, cash
    awards, full utilization of present personnel, writing performance appraisal plans, etc. Takes part in meetings between supervisors and subordinates to assist in the resolution of problems.
    5. Serves as a resource to employees at all levels, including managers and supervisors, on the interpretation of SI/SAO policy. Provides a broad range of counseling to SAO employees regarding SI/SAO policies, practices and procedures.
    6. Process requests for visas for foreign national employees, visitors, and fellows by applying appropriate guidelines and procedures and completing and submitting the necessary documentation to the appropriate
    agency for approval.
    7. Coordinate and monitor special programs as assigned (example: the SAO Summer Hire Program)
    following the procedures set forth by SI and SAO.
    8. Serves on various management, SAO-wide, or other special committees as required.
    9. Prepares a variety of reports as requested by the Director of Human Resources, members of top SI/SAO
    management, other SAO managers or supervisors or on own initiative.
Additional duties at the grade 12 may include:
  • Provides technical assistance and training to the HR Assistants, administrative and summer/student personnel within the HR Department.
  • Petition for the visa (both immigrant and non-immigrant) for non-citizens whom SAO wishes to hire permanently or temporarily.

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