The Top 4 Trends Shaping Public Sector Recruitment

The world of recruiting and hiring is ever-evolving, driven by advancements in technology, changing workforce demographics and expectations, and the need for more efficient and equitable hiring practices.

Here is what I see as the top 4 trends shaping public sector recruitment today:

1. Shifting Demographics

The Baby Boom generation has largely retired. Most of Gen X are in their 50s and pushing towards retirement. Those two cohorts represent roughly 60% of the current U.S. workforce*.

Unless unforeseen forces or events significantly alter the situation, it will be a mathematical certainty that the U.S., in 15 years or less, will face critically severe labor shortages. 

Public sector human capital staff and executive leadership need to be strategically prepared — because the next war for the limited available talent will be the most brutal yet.

2. Artificial Intelligence and Data-Driven Decision-Making

In its infancy, AI is now saving countless people hours for recruiters and hiring teams. AI tools can quickly analyze large volumes of applications, identify the most qualified candidates via applicability scores, and reduce human bias in the hiring process.

Already, public sector organizations are leveraging AI and data analytics to improve their recruitment processes and practices, and overall hiring strategy. By leveraging the power of data, they can optimize their recruitment processes and make more informed and equitable hiring decisions.

And as AI grows into ‘adulthood’, the sky, at least for now, is the limit.

3. Remote/Hybrid Working

Undeniably, COVID accelerated the adoption of remote and hybrid work as widespread in the public sector.

Where it was once and traditionally considered a privilege, doled out to a select few — it has morphed into a highly prized candidate and employee ask, if not rolling towards becoming an expectation.

Many organizations are now offering remote or hybrid work options to attract a broader pool of applicants, and to retain Staff.

This is a bell that cannot be un-rung. It’s akin to the lesson we learned when the country adopted prohibition — when we discovered that it’s nearly impossible to make something that was legal suddenly illegal, and make it stick — especially when the public enjoyed it so much.

It’s the same deal with hybrid/remote work: Workers like it, a lot. So woe betide the employer who wants it to be early 2020 all over again. 

4. Modernizing Hiring Practices and Processes

Skills-Based Hiring

Taking a leaf from the private sector’s notebook, public sector employers are increasingly focusing on the specific skills required for a job to fill their open positions.

Two of the traditional gatekeeper criteria — years of experience and college degrees — are losing their luster in favor of technical and interpersonal competencies.

This approach widens the recruitment net, opening the door to identify potential candidates for open jobs that may not have the conventional credentials, and would have been automatically disqualified.

Agile Hiring

To compete with the private sector, public sector organizations are considering, and many are adopting, more flexible and agile hiring processes.

This shift includes faster decision-making and simplified application procedures.

Public sector organizations must commit to continuously improving their recruitment and hiring practices — along with an enterprise-wide championing of positive change.

A Final Word

Bracing for these rather seismic shifts in recruiting and hiring is not enough: They must be enthusiastically embraced.

By doing so, public sector organizations can stay competitive in attracting and retaining talent, and can build and maintain capable, engaged, and productive workforces.

*Note: This data point was collated from multiple sources, including:

  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 
  • The U.S. Census Bureau 
  • McKinsey & Company

Jerry Cooney, “Jer” to his friends, has spent his career serving in various capacities within Human Resources and Talent Acquisition. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in HR from Cornell and is a Senior Certified Professional in HR (SHRM-SCP) and a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW).He began his career at a small firm in Manhattan and has since gone on to work with such famous names as Amazon, Siemens, General Electric, and Amtrak. Jer is originally from Islip, New York, but now calls Philadelphia home. He is a huge baseball fan.

Image by Adobe Stock.

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