Hiring qualified, young new talent…it’s a challenge faced by employers across all categories and industries, and the federal government is no exception. In fact, federal agencies may have a steeper hill to climb than many private sector counterparts because so many government employees are approaching retirement, and the prospect of working for the federal government may not seem as attractive to Millennials and Gen Z-ers as working in the corporate world. Add to that the trend of many younger employees adopting the “gig economy” of the past few years (we’ve all heard of The Great Resignation, right?) and there’s yet another obstacle for federal agencies who want to attract adventurous, entitled young job candidates. Recruitment Advertising is a must.
The federal government recognizes these trends and is taking the recruitment challenge to heart. According to an article published by the Federal News Network in January 2022, strengthening the talent acquisition pipeline is a shared top commitment for the GSA and OPM in the new year. This is especially crucial for STEM-related positions (science, technology and mathematics) that can serve the ever-expanding needs of cybersecurity, IT and national intelligence monitoring, and for diplomatic and economic career tracks with the U.S. State Department, the Department of Commerce, the Federal Trade Commission and other similar organizations.
In 2021, the General Services Administration established U.S. Digital Corps, a new program designed to attract entry-level tech talent to the federal government. In tandem with the Office of Personnel Management, the program is developing more precise hiring assessments to build the government’s young talent pool, mainly using a refined version of the Subject Matter Expert Qualification Assessment (SME-QA). It’s one of many ways that the federal government is scrutinizing candidates much more stringently to pre-select and attract the top prospects.
But what advantages of federal government employment can agencies tout to recent college graduates, young veterans and other youthful candidates who have grand expectations of a new career position? The benefits are already there; they just need to be put into the spotlight.
- Job Security – Being fired on the whim of a mercurial supervisor or laid off when the budget takes a hit are not nearly as threatening with a federal government job as in the private sector. Add to that union support and diligent protocols HR formalities, and a job with the fed has strong appeal.
- Opportunity for Advancement – A cog in the machine, day in and day out, rubber-stamping documents in a gray cubicle for 30 years. That’s what many young job candidates imagine when they picture working for the federal government. But that’s far from true, and federal agencies are getting smarter about highlighting the real opportunities for professional advancement and personal fulfillment.
- This is NOT Your Father’s Federal Government – Tell me something, Mr. or Ms. recent graduate student, does it sound appealing to live and work in a diplomatic or economic function anywhere in the world, or to put your fluency in Arabic, Farsi, Mandarin Chinese or Russian to use every day on the job? How about working at the White House, the Justice Department, or in the research labs at NIH or the CDC? Your federal government adventure awaits!
- A Stable Retirement – While young job candidates are more focused on the start of their careers, the smart ones understand that the “end game” is just as important. Ask any federal employee who started with the government in their early 20s and is now looking at “retirement age” in their late 50s, with solid benefits in place, and they’ll eagerly tell you about the plus points of a full government career. Whether it’s taking a lucrative new private sector job or enjoying a prime vacation resort in the Maldives, the third chapter in life looks bright with a full, early retirement from the public sector.
Those federal agencies who prominently present the myriad benefits of government employment to the sharpest job candidates, all while dispelling the dusty old myths about being a government employee, will be the most successful at infusing new talent into their ranks as older staff retire. Sell your agency smartly, seek young talent smartly, and the smartest, most qualified job candidates will pay attention.