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Hiring in Government

I just read an interesting article from the Washington Post. I encourage you to read it, especially those of you who may be responsible for hiring, or communications.

Did you know that in the next four years, approximately 1/3 of government (Federal) jobs will need to be filled? With 3/4 of its workforce being over the age of 40, the article points out that this is the perfect time for government to become “yourger, nimbler and more talented”.

I work at the state level, and find a lot of similarities that Fred Hiatt outlines in his article about government:
1. that government has no strategy for identifying the talent it will need
2. the hiring process is ghastly (my, oh my, it’s slow!)
3. that it fails to invest in the development of the people it does hire (continuing education is essential!)

As a Human Resources professional who recruits, items such as those mentioned above make it especially difficult to find people for some pretty important positions! My agency, the Arizona Department of Enviornmental Quality (ADEQ) protects public health. It makes sure that Arizona’s citizens live and work in a place where the enviornment meets healthful, regulatory standards. We have people writing legislation, as well as cleaning up and monitoring the enviornment for the great state of Arizona! These are important tasks, and the public depends on these individuals to ensure their environment remains as healthy as possible.

I know that for myself, I strive to change things for the better – on and off the job. The dilemma of hiring talented people? Hard enough when I was in private sector – even harder in Government. I recently told someone that my job is much like that of a Matchmaker. I may find someone who can fill a position, meeting the job requirements, but the “chemistry” still has to work. And by chemistry I mean the fit between the job candidate and supervisor, the perks of the position (benefits, hours, educational/training opportunities, etc.).

I don’t have the answer for the points that the author brings up, but I certainly recognize that change is needed. I attempt to do my part in the process as one cog in the big wheel. More importantly, I have faith that one day, my attempts will finally get the process for change going. Kudos to Fred Hiatt for pointing these things out….I know I’ve been educating others of them myself. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying there’s power in numbers. I believe that, and I’m glad to know there’s others getting the word out – it makes the fight worth fighting!

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I think the government is poised for great change with the need for new blood, government seen in a better light, and the economy. Let’s hope its nimble enough to get talent in and retained.

Amy Loveridge

I am eagerly waiting to see how the new OPM director streamlines the federal hiring process. As a recruiter, I find it quite challenging to keep a candidate interested when the paperwork can take up to a YEAR. By then, the best candidates have accepted higher paying public sector jobs- and who can blame them!