Report: Agencies Can Take Their Own Actions to Improve Hiring

A new report says that although the federal government has a cumbersome hiring process that needs revamping, agencies can take their own actions to make bolster recruiting.

A new report highlights the challenges that the federal government faces with recruiting new talent as well as ways federal agencies can act on their own to make improvements.

The government experiences difficulty in recruiting new federal employees because “Too often, the applicant experience is miserable, plagued by confusing job announcements, a USAJobs platform that is difficult to use, and a cumbersome hiring process that can take months to complete,” according to the report. And that is a reason that agencies should consider taking matters into their own hands as much as possible.

Published by the Partnership for Public Service, the report says that agencies are facing a potential labor shortage with an aging federal workforce in mission-critical positions, so it’s in their best interest to improve their hiring processes as much as possible.

According to the report, agencies should:

  • Strategically identify their talent needs for both today and tomorrow.
  • Recruit more effectively and efficiently by being proactive, promoting their brand, keeping in touch with former employees and targeting young people.
  • Ensure that they hire the best applicants by creating a better candidate experience and using innovative techniques to identify who is most qualified.
  • Look inward for the next generation of talent.

Workforce plans are one way agencies can better identify their talent needs. The purpose of such plans would be to map out how many employees are in each type of position, how many are needed and the necessary skills employees should have to meet an agency’s goals.

Also, the report says that by forecasting attrition and beginning the hiring process before a position becomes vacant, hiring could then go from being reactionary to proactive. Proactively seeking out top candidates could prove especially valuable for positions that are traditionally harder to fill.

The report also says that the federal government faces a branding problem with just 25% of Americans thinking of it in a positive sense according to a recent Gallup poll. Agencies could work on their own to build their brand awareness in an effort to reverse these negative perceptions. The TSA, for instance, has put together an “Employee Stories” section on its website to put a human face on the agency’s work by highlighting achievements of individual employees.

The report notes that the federal government takes an average of 98 days to make a new hire, over double that of the private sector. To remain competitive, it suggests that agencies focus on improving the candidate experience. One example noted was used by the Air Force to hold its staff accountable and cut hiring times. The agency developed a dashboard showing the status of every job search underway as well as who was responsible for taking the next action and by what date. It helped the Air Force cut its time to hire by over 40 days.

The full report offers more details on ways agencies can improve their hiring processes: A Time For Talent: Improving Federal Recruiting And Hiring

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.