Agencies need to change tactics to attract younger workers

Monday - 3/17/2014, 2:52pm EDT

Tim McManus, vice president for education, Partnership for Public Service

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By Jason Fornicola
Federal News Radio

The government's goal of attracting younger workers to federal service could be an easy sell, if it's done right.

The Partnership for Public Service's analysis of the results of the 2013 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Student Survey found while many college students are interested in federal service, the agencies may not be doing a good job of connecting with those candidates.

Only 8.8 percent of students used USAJobs.gov, giving way to sites such as LinkedIn (17.3 percent), Career Builder (15.5 percent) and Monster (14.5).

This is despite 25 percent of respondents who ranked government service at any level in their top three industry choices. Furthermore, 35 percent who said the federal government was their top career choice hadn't even used USAJobs.gov to search for a job.

"I think that is actually part of the problem, so we've got to focus more attention on that," Tim McManus, vice president for education at Partnership for Public Service said on In-Depth with Francis Rose Thursday. "Driving people to where they can find out about the jobs in the first place, and then second, create a system and the structure that's easier to navigate in and of itself."

McManus pointed to social media as an example of where today's millennials are going to learn about career opportunities.

"It really is about networking, I think, in terms of where they go to get their information," he said. "They're going to, clearly, a LinkedIn site or social media site because it's a networking site. So that's where they're finding information."

Opportunities for growth and development are key

The career aspect younger workers valued most — 92 percent of the nearly 38,000 surveyed — was the opportunity for personal growth and development. McManus said this is an area where government can sell itself to potential candidates and separate itself from the private sector beyond traditional training programs.

"It's not just about the formal training," McManus said. "It's the level of responsibility and engagement in actually dealing with issues that help you grow and develop along the way."

Other selling points for younger workers are job security, a good benefits package, recognition for good performance and clearly defined assignments.

Data from the study also suggest opportunities to recruit federal government interns, who indicated a strong interest in working for the government. Forty-six percent of federal interns said they would accept a full-time job with their respective agency, yet less than 20 percent actually received an offer compared to 27 percent of their private-sector counterparts.

"I don't believe we're fully utilizing internships as a direct pathway in," said McManus. "We're providing it as a great way to get experience, and work experience, but we're not looking at it as a pipeline in. We've got to actually capitalize on those folks who are coming in as interns to look at them as full- time employees long term."

McManus referenced the Pathways Programs as a way to combat the problem.

"They provide the opportunity to convert those folks to full-time employment," he said.

Source: Partnership for Public Service report

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