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A New Job for Government Agencies: Improve Applicant Communications to Boost Recruitment

Nearly 4 million Americans retire yearly, with approximately 100,000 coming directly from the federal civil service.

The ‘Silver Tsunami’ phenomenon — a wave of retirements characterized by the mass exodus of Baby Boomers reaching retirement age — has been building for almost a decade. Now, we stand at the crest of this wave, and state and federal governments, like the rest of the nation, are grappling with its impact.

The Silver Tsunami is a challenge for all industries, but it poses a particularly significant threat to the public sector. The unique challenges faced by government in this context need to be addressed with urgency.

This exodus magnifies traditional hiring struggles. Government positions often offer lower salaries and reduced benefits for comparable job titles in the private sector. However, they compensate for this through unique opportunities, meaningful work, critical challenges, and a sense of public service and patriotism, which are invaluable aspects of civil service.

These factors tend to keep government employees in their roles longer than their private sector peers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average federal civil service worker has a median tenure of 6.8 years — nearly double the 3.7 years seen in the private sector. Furthermore, government employees are generally older, with three out of four surpassing 35 years of age compared to three out of five in the private sector. While this can be a benefit for agencies, it can cause problems when large swaths of the government retire in a few short years.

Agencies now have a rare opportunity to significantly improve recruitment and retention by enhancing the hiring process, particularly the communications between the hiring team and job candidates. This improvement can lead to a more positive candidate experience, a stronger employer brand, and a more efficient workforce.

A Streamlined Hiring Process

Contentment among job candidates — a measure of positive experience with the hiring process — has declined since 2021, according to the latest annual research from the Candidate Experience Benchmark Research and Awards Program.

One of the top reasons, experts agree, is poor communication.

“A positive candidate experience can improve how your employer brand is perceived in the labor market, decrease ghosting by top talent, and enhance your ability to fill gaps in your workforce,” said Kevin Grossman, vice president of research at ERE Media, who conducted the study. “Our research tells us that employers have lost their north star of improving and sustaining a quality candidate experience and, unfortunately, candidate resentment is again on the rise.”

A scroll through LinkedIn quickly highlights the frustration of job seekers. They apply for jobs only to receive no feedback. Those who move forward in the process may find themselves in weeks- (and sometimes months-) long interview process with multiple decision-makers and take-home projects.

There is often little transparency. A candidate may feel they’ve bent over backward to meet demands only for another step to emerge. And that’s when failures in communication happen: Every job seeker has a story of a human resources team member or hiring manager ghosting them.

“Unfortunately, companies forget that the candidate experience should be treated like a consumer experience,” said John Wilson, CEO of Wilson HCG, a Tampa-based recruitment firm. “If employers thought of it like that, candidate satisfaction would go up tremendously.”

Increased satisfaction equates to more hires, happier and more engaged employees, and an improved reputation that will attract future applicants.

Now, the question is: How do agencies make this happen?

Improving Application Engagement

Granicus works with thousands of local, state, and federal agencies to improve community engagement. The tools used to communicate with residents, inform them of important information, and receive feedback can serve as a backbone for improving the job application process.

We created a checklist of activities federal agencies can do to build the workforce of the future by utilizing digital solutions that transform their workforce engagement structure.

These activities focus on creating and then optimizing applicant communication channels. Taking these steps creates credibility with job seekers, allowing them to start their new government assignment positively and serve as a positive voice for public sector employment.

Here are a few of the top activities government hiring managers should focus on:

  • Leverage text-to-subscribe capabilities that allow website visitors to get text message updates.
  • Measure your question-and-answer rate, as this can serve as an indicator of program trust.
  • Utilize a segmentation strategy that ensures communications get tailored based on customer understanding. These types of account sign-ups serve as a powerful indicator of job consideration.
  • Provide timely and relevant information to ensure job candidates remain engaged in the job process.

Review the full checklist and see what steps your agency should take to improve its hiring and public perception.

Ready to Get Started?

Granicus has created a new government workforce website with information for public sector organizations wanting to improve hiring practices. Visit the page and connect with a Granicus expert to learn how our solutions can transform your workforce acquisition process.