4 Challenges When Hiring for the Public Sector

4 Challenges when Hiring in the Public Sector

Even with a large talent pool, filling positions in the public sector can be extremely challenging. Unfortunately, there isn’t a large talent pool available today, making the public sector even harder to hire for.

Some of the challenges facing public sector employers have to do with perception. Government jobs aren’t seen as very modern or attractive by recent graduates, they see the offerings and structure of the positions as restrictive and old-fashioned. Other challenges stem from talent pipelines and ensuring that candidates have the skills necessary to fill the available roles.

By looking at these challenges, we hope to identify some ways to either avoid or overcome the challenges faced when hiring for the public sector and save you some headaches.

Lack of Flexibility

The way many workplaces structure themselves and the way they function is changing rapidly. Moving away from the traditional work week by offering work from home options or adjusted schedules is very attractive to prospective employees.

For those same employees, public sector jobs are often viewed as old-fashioned and stuck with the traditional eight to five work days. While that might not be the case, that perception must be overcome to attract top talent successfully.

While public sector positions may not be as cutting edge as startups, they can learn a lot from them. Some government agencies are adopting workplace policies like startups to engage with a small talent pool. Things like working remotely, and more flexible hours are a huge selling point to many candidates. Especially the younger ones.

Hard to get Young Talent

Just as the inflexible work environment may deter younger job seekers from the public sector, failure to update technology can be harmful as well. Some may think it is connected to millennials being raised in a digital environment, but it goes further than that. If workers are working on outdated technology, they are lagging behind their peers in other industries.

If there is no way for employees to gain updated experience, they are not growing as professionals. Studies have shown that millennials are willing to move into government jobs, and to stay there; only if they have opportunities to develop their skills, careers, and benefits.

Updating the systems and workplaces in the public sector is no longer a way to stay hip. It’s now necessary to attract and retain the next generation of talent. The sooner hiring managers can make those changes, the sooner they can overcome that hurdle.

Long Hiring Timeline

Many job-seekers need to find work relatively soon. They can’t spend extended amounts of time waiting to hear back from hiring managers or recruiters. According to research done by the Office of Personnel Management, the average hiring time for federal personnel is 106 days. That timeline frequently leads to public sector jobs going unfilled due to the agility of private sector companies.

There are solutions to speed up the process. Even for busy HR managers with shoestring budgets. The key lies in being more strategic with job postings. Public sector hiring managers are much less likely to use social media to advertise their openings than their private sector counterparts.

Even though it may be a government job, hiring managers need to meet the candidates where they are. Targeting the sites and mediums that jobs seekers are using is essential. It may seem simple, but 75% of federal hiring managers still only use USAJOBS to advertise openings. Failure to target searches severely limits the reach of any talent search.

Lack of Experienced Candidates

For many hiring managers, the challenge is not only a lack of candidates but a lack of qualified candidates. Every job today is rapidly evolving due to technology. Making sure applicants have the skill necessary to succeed is increasingly difficult.

The issue may not be with the candidates, but with the skills pipeline. Establishing training and apprenticeships works very well for trade skills, but what about public sector office jobs? Some employers are bringing back apprenticeships to make sure their younger employees are being developed.

Taking the time to build and maintain a talent pipeline can alleviate some of the symptoms of the current skills shortage. Additionally, employees who have been trained in-house can hit the ground running faster, as they are already familiar with your systems.

If you’re ready to face these challenges head-on and start attracting more top public sector talent, US Tech can get you pointed in the right direction.

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