Candidate Pools & Proactive Recruiting, Hiring & Recruiting

Strategies for Effectively Recruiting Government Workers

Human resources (HR) leaders are shifting from a transactional to a strategic approach to support state and local governments in adapting to changing workforce demographics and the increased competition for talent finds a new report released by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE).government

State and local governments are modernizing their operations, revamping their hiring practices, and developing a brand that appeals to a more diverse pool of applicants. SLGE found that these leaders are applying creativity to build a more robust pipeline for hard-to-fill positions and offer a wide range of learning opportunities. Because as we know, having an engaged workforce that is motivated to gain skills and knowledge is essential to an organization’s success and well-being.

To learn more about the change management approaches that are most effective, SLGE conducted a literature review and interviewed leaders from seven local governments and one state government. SLGE conducted interviews with HR and management leaders in the following locations:

  • The State of Michigan,
  • The City of Centennial and the City and County of Denver, Colorado;
  • Johnson County, Kansas;
  • The City of Minneapolis, Minnesota;
  • Montgomery County, Maryland;
  • The City of San Antonio, Texas; and
  • The City and County of San Francisco, California.

Using information parsed from SLGE’s new report, Workforce of the Future: Strategies to Manage Change, here are a few ways state and local governments are recruiting workers.

As a greater number of younger and more diverse workers enter the job market, state and local governments are adapting their recruitment strategies to reach them. SLGE finds that these employers are participating in job fairs and using social media, YouTube videos, and infographics in their advertising. Some organizations are offering more flexibility, including flexibility in their compensation and benefits package.

Government Employers Try Different Methods to Stand Out

State and local government employers look for ways to stand out and get the word out about their job openings. SLGE finds that online job advertisements are the most successful way to get open positions out to the public, cited by 84% of government employers. While 51% say they rely on employee referrals, and 46% use social media websites.

The State of Michigan uses infographics, photographs, and posters to get the attention of younger workers and job candidates. The City and County of Denver participates in career fairs, offers internships, and makes active use of social media. Denver uses an advertising agency and posts videos of employees doing their jobs and serving as brand champions. Photographs are included on billboards, posters, and light rail cars with the message, “Be a part of the city you love.”

The City of San Antonio, Texas features a job of the week on Facebook and LinkedIn with hiring managers describing the job’s unique aspects. The city uses social media to highlight individual employees and to share information about the city and the department with the job opening. Once a month, the city has a live “Chat with a Recruiter” opportunity on Facebook, where individuals can pose their questions and get answers on the spot. Not only has San Antonio utilized the powers of social media to attract talent, but it also understands the importance of offering valuable benefits to attract talent.

San Antonio Amends PTO Policy to Attract Working Parents

San Antonio has recently amended its paid time off (PTO) policy to provide an additional 24-hours of leave, specifically earmarked to encourage employees to participate in activities that help transform the workforce and the community.

Employees can use this leave to volunteer for a nonprofit, go to their annual physical appointment, meet with someone regarding financial wellness, attend their child’s parent-teacher conference, or military swearing-in ceremony, take their pet to the vet, or adopt a pet from the city’s animal shelter.

In addition, parental leave is provided to all employees immediately upon hire. Parental leave allows for 6 weeks of paid time to bond with a child after birth, adoption, or placement from foster care. PTO and parental leave are two very important benefits that all working parents are looking for when applying for new jobs.

San Francisco Focuses on Building Talent Pipelines

SLGE finds that building the pipeline of talent is another strategy for some government employers. For example, government employers in San Francisco, California have turned to using The San Francisco Fellows Program, which is geared toward recent college graduates and targets historically black colleges, among other places. This highly competitive program has brought dozens of diverse and qualified candidates into entry-level professional positions across the city.

Candidates with disabilities are another source of talent that San Francisco has tapped. These individuals are often overlooked and have the skills needed by many departments. The California State Department of Rehabilitation pays for any adaptive equipment needed for their jobs.

Johnson County, Kentucky Provides More Detailed Job Descriptions

Johnson County, Kansas, has been attentive to position descriptions. Each job description includes background on the county’s pillars of performance, which describe the county’s leadership philosophy, mission, vision, and values.

The county’s public information officer has been enhancing the Johnson County career portal to better convey more about the organization. It is optimized for mobile users, highlights recent hires, and includes more social media communication.

Denver Focuses on Turnover and Training

Turnover is a reality in many governments. Denver estimates that 20% of its workforce may retire in the next 5 years, so it is working with managers to identify critical positions and who might have the interest and potential to develop the needed skills. Although not every employee is interested in developing the skills needed to advance, training is offered to everyone.

Effective onboarding, training, and professional development are essential retention strategies. The City and County of Denver now provides much of its training online, rather than through full-day, in-person training. The online training is more condensed and covers such subjects as using spreadsheets, word processing, the HR information system, ethics, performance reviews, and coaching conversations.

While these are just a few examples of the ways state and local government employers are trying to attract new talent, these methods can also be utilized in the private sector. What unique strategies have you used to attract talent? Have you tried similar methods utilized by the government employers listed above? Have these methods worked? Tell us in the comment section, below.