Federal Service: A Mission for the Next Generation

We’re blogging from the Next Generation of Government Training Summit. Follow along @NextGenGov and read more blog posts here.

How can the Federal government hire, develop, and retain a robust and talented workforce in the 21st century?

Katherine Archuleta, Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), thinks about this question every day. During her breakfast keynote speech at this year’s NextGen conference, she spoke about how she’s striving to attract the best and the brightest minds to Federal service.

And she began by acknowledging the current Federal employees in the room.

“I want to thank you for the work you do every day to serve the American people,” she began, “I know you had choices … but I’m glad you chose your passion. I’m glad you chose public service. I’m glad you chose the federal government. I see all of you out here and I’m struck by the energy and motivation that you all represent.”

Archuleta then described a trip she took out to Silicon Valley to learn about what private companies do to retain their employees.

“First, they pay really well. And the campuses are exactly what you think. I asked the CEO of Google, ‘How can I possibly compete with this?’ and he said, ‘You can’t’.”

Where government can compete, she said, is by thinking not about the bottom line, but the top line — the overall value — of public service.

“We all can compete — and where we can compete nobly — is by making a difference in people’s lives. We help people every day,” she continued. “This can’t be measured in dollars and sense, but it can be measured about how you feel about yourself and the contributions you make through the work that you do. Public service is personal.”

She then added that Federal service no longer necessarily means staying at one agency for an entire career. She acknowledged that Millennials and Gen-Xer’s don’t think about work the way former generations have, and the Federal government shouldn’t either.

“We’re expanding our reach by increasing our use of social media,” she said proudly, “I have a Twitter following that’s growing each and every day. We are engaging in becoming a player in today’s digital employment marketplace. I know we need to reach out to today’s applicants, not expect you to come to us.”

(You can, of course, follow her here.)

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