How Government Agencies Can Improve Their Recruiting Efforts

Anna-Marie Montague

Solid branding, prescient audience analysis, and keen outreach strategy are all essential to impactful recruiting. But effective content is key to touching and moving candidates to action.

Now is Prime Time to Revitalize Your Recruiting

While COVID-19 worries are far from behind us, there’s a fresh sense of hope in the air. Moving forward, the government and private sector alike will press full bore to revitalize the economy, and new cabinet leaders will move quickly to actualize agency agendas. Get ahead of the curve to meet this rising talent demand by assessing and refining your recruitment strategy, planning, and execution now.

Solid branding, prescient audience analysis, and keen outreach strategy are all essential to impactful recruiting. But effective content is key to touching and moving candidates to action. Assuming you have the strategic perquisites in place, boost your impact by defining or refining your story, adopting plain language, and auditing and refreshing your recruiting communications arsenal.

Tell Your Story: Delineate the Differentiators

Depending on your audience, you may focus on differentiators for the Agency, your key positions, and/or working as a federal employee.

  • Agency Differentiators

    • What uniquely attracts people to your organization… and keeps them there? 

    • Mission and impact are big draws for many candidates, who want to make a meaningful difference.

    • Emphasize particularly strong learning and career development opportunities within your organization. 

  • Career/Position Differentiators 

    • If you offer a career ladder for certain positions, explain how it helps entry-level professionals advance more quickly.

    • If the agency provides special leadership development, or reimbursement for professional certifications or advanced degrees, call it out.

  • Federal Career Differentiators: Emphasize attributes such as:

    • Career stability, along with the opportunity to transition to other positions within the agency or across the federal government.

    • The array of robust federal benefits, including generous leave policies and insurance coverage. 

    • Portability of federal benefits such as accrued leave and retirement when an employee transfers from one position or agency to another.

    • The opportunity for student loan forgiveness.

    • Programs that support work-life balance.

Made Your Story Personal

Whether bringing career development programs to life or providing insights into common agency roles with “a day in the life,” employee stories, profiles, and testimonials help draw candidates to your organization. 

Adopt Plain Language

It can be hard for hiring managers and HR professionals with deep federal experience to appreciate how much specialized terminology is used within their agencies—and in describing federal pay and benefits. That can be a frustrater and barrier for applicants. So how do you assess your current messaging?

  • Survey or do quick focus groups with interviewers, supervisors, and new hires to get a sense of what information is lacking, unclear, or confusing for applicants.

  • Ask a friend or family member with no government experience to review draft material (the “would Mom understand this?” test). 

  • Keep in mind that recruiting information needn’t be technical—even if your agency performs highly-technical and specialized work. A great example: NASA’s recruiting brochure.

Provide Applicants Valuable Hiring Information and Resources

Be judicious in linking to other government sites for hiring/benefit information: 

  • You might direct potential candidates away from your site before they’re learned about your opportunities.

  • While the information will be technically correct, it may well be incomprehensible for your audience.

Take a cue from well-written resources for federal applicants. One example: the Go Government website, which informs job-seekers of the benefits of working for the government and explains the federal hiring process. Including an application process overview and tips on your site can help candidates succeed, while reinforcing that your agency is focused on attracting and including talented professionals.

Audit and Update Recruiting Resources

Review every section of your careers site; your social media presence; and all your current handouts, presentations, standard emails, job opportunity announcements, and any other recruiting resources, with an eye to:

  • Currentness, Completeness, and Accuracy

  • Appealing Design

  • Accessibility

  • Clarity

  • Brand Consistency

  • Audience Relevance

Define or weed out jargon; add relatable and informative imagery, infographics, and other graphic elements; and make sure content is succinct and scannable in every format. 

Looking to revitalize your recruiting? Whether you need a comprehensive strategy and plan, a brand refresh, a digital hiring campaign, or a content and user experience overhaul for your careers site, Yes& can help. Let’s talk!

Yes& is the Washington, DC-based marketing agency that brings commercial, association, and government clients the unlimited power of “&” – using a full suite of branding, digital, event, marketing, public relations, and creative capabilities to deliver meaningful and measurable results.

Let’s talk about what the power of "&" can do for you.

Anna-Marie Montague
Anna-Marie Montague
Senior Writer/Strategist