The break is obviously over and the executive branch, specifically the White House, is back to work. Two Executive Orders are dated November 29, both regarding appointments to the Competitive Service.
I am learning by reading these orders and by the context of the language that there are some federal government jobs that are required by law to be open and competitive in the search process before hiring. This makes sense if you believe opportunities should be available to all interested persons and not just limited to those who know the boss.
Executive Order — Providing for the Appointment of Alumni of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, and the Critical Language Scholarship Program to the Competitive Service
Executive Order — Providing for the Appointment in the Competitive Service of Certain Employees of the Foreign Service
These two orders specifically exempt categories of applicants from the competitive service rule. In effect, they now become much more likely to be hired. As best I can tell from the language in these orders, taking these actions is good not only for the departments and agencies in the federal government that hires these individuals, but also for the individuals themselves. Being a part of the named programs does provide excellent experience that can be put to good use in the government. In some respects it is a return on the public investment because the programs are federally funded.