Adapting to the “new normal” these days feels like a high-speed car chase: Who can evolve the fastest to succeed? Recruiting in the government space is no different. Fortunately, the right marketing strategies can help government agencies efficiently and effectively reach qualified personnel and succeed in their recruitment efforts.
Government recruiting has long had its challenges: attracting young, qualified workers; overcoming an arduous application process; and—ultimately—hiring people before they are scooped up by the private sector. COVID-19 has added more complexities to the mix. With recruiting events and face-to-face interviews now held virtually, organizations have to be innovative and adapt their previous recruiting strategies to reach qualified candidates and accomplish their hiring goals.
Keeping Up With the Times
The way that people look for jobs has changed dramatically. Even before the global pandemic, government agencies were under pressure to adapt to those changes and to be more agile in hiring. While the need to adopt new and improved recruiting techniques is often a primary challenge for many agencies, in a study conducted by Government Executive, only 35% of federal agencies use paid advertising as a recruitment technique. Instead, most rely on job boards, job fairs, college visits, and job listings on their agency’s website to promote their job offerings.
“Hiring is an increasing pain point across the entire government,” said Max Stier, the president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, in a recent ClearanceJobs article. “That is the number one trend that I see. It is a really important problem that various folks have tried to address and, frankly, without a whole lot of success.”
As the pandemic challenges federal agencies in many aspects, it has spurred the need for innovation in hiring strategies and processes. Digital marketing provides the ability to develop and deploy highly targeted, fully-integrated social media and marketing campaigns that reach users where they are, not the other way around.
Through behavioral, demographic, professional, and geographic targeting capabilities, digital marketing can reach qualified users across a variety of platforms, including digital display networks, paid search advertising, social media, Over the Top TV (OTT), and digital audio platforms. If the use of 3rd party cookies is permitted, users can then be nurtured from awareness to acquisition by way of retargeting through digital display ads and across all social media platforms.
If your organization is not utilizing a comprehensive digital marketing approach to recruitment, it is missing a huge opportunity to reach the right people, at the right time, at the right place.
Complicated Recruitment Process
The federal hiring process is often a months-long, complex process that can create barriers, allowing some of the best applicants to get snapped up by other employers with more streamlined hiring practices. While some aspects of the process are beyond the control of agencies, there are ways to streamline an organization’s techniques and alleviate the daunting steps and barriers that deter qualified applicants and add additional strain.
This is where digital expertise comes in. Developing a centralized website that focuses on user experience (UX), including simple and easy-to-understand lead generation forms, is essential for optimizing recruitment techniques. With clear calls-to-action, landing page simplicity, and automated workflows set up to handle candidate follow-up and lead capture, personnel offices save significant work hours. By implementing simple improvements to websites and recruitment strategy, agencies can see vast improvements in recruiting.
In addition to strong UX, providing applicants with the right content can also make the process easier. As part of our work with an Agency within the DoD, Yes& has created a series of blogs to provide resume tips and information about applying through USAJOBS. This content can then be repurposed for social media and as resources for recruiters to use in their outreach efforts.
Recruiting in a Virtual World
Shifting an organization’s recruitment techniques to focus on digital-first tactics will attract and grow its candidate pool, while ensuring high quality users are met where they are across a variety of platforms. But effectively transitioning in-person events to a virtual setting requires thoughtful adaptation, along with training and resources for recruiting personnel. For instance, Yes& has found that providing structured training (through e-learning systems or online presentations) is helpful—but it is even more valuable to reinforce and extend this training by developing tip sheets and reference materials for the HR team, any other agency staff involved in recruiting, and interviewers.
For agencies with heavy recruitment needs, and those hiring in particularly competitive fields, it’s also valuable to invest in more engaging recruitment support materials. This is especially true for video, which can bring the agency mission to life, authentically share the benefits and rewards of working for the agency through employee stories, and be adapted for attention-getting and powerful social content.
As COVID-19 continues to change the world of work in every sector, it provides a unique opportunity for government agencies to become innovative in securing top talent.