Getting the best people for the vacant government positions

By Orlando Huaman* 14 January 2019, 12:00AM

With a couple of Chief Executive roles available in the Government, the closing time for those shooting to become a brand new C.E.O. and also those thinking that they can be re-appointed is up. They have thrown their hats in the ring now. 

Are they trusting their luck? Relying on their prayers, or they have what it takes to become a C.E.O in Samoa?

I have always been interested in the accomplishments of the C.E.Os in multinational companies (mainly in the U.S. such as Starbucks, Amazon. Microsoft, Sears, Target, GM, Toyota, Siemens, Samsung, HP, etc.)

 They can make or break a big as well as a small company. How so? By their actions, behavior, mistakes, unrealistic goals, abuse, etc. 

Those C.E.Os should act in accordance to the way of thinking of the: Board of Directors, shareholders, owners, the stock market, etc. They are always in the look out for how and what those C.E.Os are making with their money invested, who wouldn’t? 

Even though the name of the title is the same (C.E.O.) the way companies (governments) elect people for that position vary. 

The big companies rely on their Human Resources Department expertise or in a Special Committee to fill up a high level position. It is a very serious undertaking and they would never rely on a “coming   whisper at the last minute.” People who have the power to hire must exercise their best judgment considering the implication of the elected candidate in the national interest. 

For those who are not familiar with what a C.E.O’s job entitles to, I have come to rely on the definition of a C.E.O. not in my dictionary’s definition, but in the   description of the C.E.O. position in my copy of the “O*Net Dictionary of Occupational Titles” as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor. Fourth   Edition.

Here it is: “Chief Executives determine and formulate policies and provide overall direction of companies or private or public sector organizations within the guidelines set up by the board of directors or similar governing body. Plan, direct or coordinate operational activities at the highest level of management   with the help of subordinate executives  and staff managers.” 

Let me X-ray what the P.S.C. requires from the people who want to become a C.E.O. In reading and analyzing the requirements for that position as it comes from the P.S.C., and as it is described above, the way it is approached is different. 

While the Samoa government approaches the position it rests mostly in the applicant attributes that he/she brings to the position, rather than adherence to the above function of the C.E.O as described above. 

What is required for the applicant is the job of the panelist (in Samoa) at the time of the interviewing. His/her line of questioning would uncover what in the “Position Competence” A, B, C, and D is requested in writing. 

In the way and time the interview is carried out in Samoa by the panelist does not allow the discussion of competences of the applicant in detail. 

This is complicated by the traditional way of choosing the applicant only by effecting one interview. Let me say this; one interview is not enough, especially by the caliber of the position. If no applicant qualifies, re-advertise the position. The P.S.C. should take their time; hire slow, fire fast, is the mandate. Why the hurry? One interview is okay for hiring a janitor or a tea lady, but not for a C.E.O. 

It amazes me that among the requirements no (minimum) years of experience is stated anywhere. Most jobs of this nature requires anywhere from 8 to 15 years of continuous experience in jobs related to the position. Years of work means not only experience accumulated toward an envisioned job; but also time to shine his/her achievement along. A C.E.O. job is a culmination of a person’s career, not a stepping stone.

Going over of what the P.S.C. requires of the applicant, I will take some exemption to some wording on some requirements. For instance: Cover letter. Cover letter is not a piece of paper in which the applicant says “Yes, I am interested in the position and if chosen I will be ready to start immediately”  No, no. Did you know that the Cover Letter, if masterfully crafted, can obviate the need for a C.V.? People have been hired on the strengths of their Cover Letter alone.

Many job seekers are surprised to learn how important a cover letter is in getting a job interview. They are even more shocked to learn about other powerful job search letters, especially the thank-you letter that often leads to a job offer. 

Why the cover letter is so important? Not in (i) and (ii)  as stated by the P.S.C.

No one should be expected to read your cover letter and résumé unless you make a special effort to motivate them to do so. The main reason should be that you have something of extraordinary value  (to say in your cover letter) your skills, experience, and a pattern of accomplishments- that will benefit their operations, be it solving problems, saving money, or making more money.

I also take exemption to the part that says about the written references.

Let us be logical here, as they say, even though we humans are not logical. First, who in his/her right mind is going to give a bad reference to a candidate (known or unknown) or the applicant?  

Nobody. Second, most probably, the letter of reference is not read, because they rightly assume that the reference is a positive one. Besides the request is as follow.

 “I would like to have a good reference from you since I am applying for a job as a CEO at (here one of the 8 vacancies) Would you do that for me, Sir (friend, pastor, former employer, etc.)? Answer, no problem, I hope you get the job!” I have done it myself so many times. In fact I have a form letter with blanks to fill in. 

Reading down the line on 3. -“Most recent curriculum vitae (the name in itself is wrong, it should be résumé) that includes: (i), (ii) a lawyer will certify anything for a fee in no time. I have seen it done. By details of all. it probably means all the “duties and responsibilities” in each of their previous jobs. Tedious reading, if I might say so. Therefore, no reading. Besides every working job have “duties and responsibilities” Worse many candidates think, wrongly, that they are going to be hired based on their D & R. In fact, this part have no bearing in qualifying for a job, accomplishments in the job does. 

Employers buy accomplishments, not D & R.

Also why do you need to authorize somebody to ask about you to somebody else, unless is to the police?

Now here is my punch line.

In my opinion anybody is welcome to apply for the C.E.O position. Why? No years of job experience is one of the main requirements. Also in my opinion multiple years of experience do not necessarily qualify him/her for this position.

Why? It is not what jobs you had, it is what you have made of the jobs you have had that counts. Meaning: increased production, saved money, restructured the customer service, reorganized a department, collected money due to the company, trained new employees, enhanced working conditions, improved the bottom line, introduced newer initiatives, decreased wastage, helped the community, wiped out discrimination at work, rewarded the best performers, introduced a new product, etc. 

These are things  that  count, i.e. things that you did (well) in your previous employments. Nothing else. That is your selling point!

X years of work without noticeable accomplishment does not qualify you for so important position, neither recommendations from big honchos or matai titles. Because you will be playing with people’s money and human beings, and the country is relying on you for progress.

Another important consideration for this job is. For the panelists here in Samoa the crucial question that should be put to the so-called short listed candidates is: 1. Mr. candidate, what are your objectives in applying for this job? Would you explain to us? We want to know what you expected to accomplish if you are a serious contender for this position? The other pivotal question is: Would you please tell us in detail, the list of your accomplishments in your previous jobs that closely related to this one you are applying here? Take your time, we are listening.

What I am trying to say, very seriously is: If the panelists expect the candidates to apply in the traditional way, i.e. their C.V. will look like this: DOB, age, village, nationality, language, church of attendance, all these irrelevant info. Is followed  by job experience, education, membership, references. Any Tom, Dick and Jerry can do that and send it to the PSC.

The modern way to apply for a job, especially of the caliber of a CEO must be: Your C.V. right below your name and point of contact should clearly, precisely and to the point the following info: Your Objectives and the list of Your Accomplishments. 

Nothing else matters if and when a candidate is called for an interview. The rest information will be asked later.

If the country expects some kind of progress in the next 3 years, this is the way to go (the above suggestion). 




Time will tell. If you read the Editorial of the main newspaper in Samoa, the news instead of uplifting you, depresses you. Elected CEOs are part of the problem, church inaction, self-interest of the big honchos, mismanagements at all level of the government, soft judicial system. 

Rampart lack of the spirit of entrepreneurship among businessmen lean the country’s economy the way of “Buy and  Sell ” When are we going to start using what we have-land and ocean?  Fact is, the government does not know how to hire and how to fire (SRU), how to invest people’s money (white elephants), don’t know how to take advantage of the power of youth and women (unemployment) Let us just hire the right people for a change. They, in the long run, will make a difference. 

Questions of interest: Why don’t we mechanize our agriculture, why don’t we create cottage industries from the added value of our staples? Like banana, pineapple, etc. Do we need whiskey? More tobacco (expand your horizon?) Come on man! Too many Vailimas kill people, right? Why don’t we stop obesity, NCD? Why don’t we learn how to vote? Change is progress. Period. Let us be proactive! Love progress!


*Orlando Huaman is a job counselor and a freelance writer. Malololelei.

By Orlando Huaman* 14 January 2019, 12:00AM

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