Millennials comprise only 8.5 percent of the federal workforce. In order to be innovative agencies must attract, hire and retain top talent from colleges and universities to ensure our government is positioned to tackle the country’s most pressing problems. What steps do agencies need to take to address this challenge? How can they do a better job of attracting the best and brightest?
Partnership for Public Service working with the National Association of Colleges and Employers analyzed a survey of more than 37,000 students from 646 colleges and universities, asking about everything from their expectations about their first job to whether they would consider a career in public service.
Tom Fox is the Vice President for Leadership and Innovation at the Partnership for Public Service. He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that college kids are interested in government but are not applying.
“We looked at this issue, because the employees younger than 30 represent just 8.5% of the federal workforce, even though they make up nearly 25% of the workforce overall. The picture is a little disappointing, not just in the actuality, but in the perceptions as well. What we are finding is college students are actually quite interested in public service careers and government service, but that very rarely translates into either seeking or securing a government job,” said Fox.
What are college kids looking for in their first job?
“Part of the challenge that federal agencies face is really around making the sell. Not in the superficial sense, but really in an educational sense. How do you convey what it is that you offer to college students so that they actually do the hard work in pursuing the job. It is certainly harder to go through the job application process for the federal government than for the private sector or non-profits,” said Fox. “For those of you that are able to make it through, it is worth the process and worth the wait.”
What are college kids looking for:
- Personal growth and development. They want to do something where they are learning and growing.
- Job security. Over 86% of the folks that we surveyed are looking for job security. It is more than has been the case in the past.
- Friendly colleagues.
- Good benefits packages, that ties into the job security piece.
- Recognition for a good performance. They want to do good work and be recognized for it.
“In particular, what is fascinating to me is this increased focus on job security. These are things in the past where the government has really excelled. The question really is whether or not agencies are doing an effective enough job in terms of conveying what it is they offer and how it aligns with students,” said Fox.
Survey asked which of the following represents your ideal career:
- 37% Private sector
- 21% Non-profit
- 20% Medical
- 10% Other
- 5% Federal
- 5% State and Local
“Oftentimes the federal government is seen a monolith as opposed to the individual agencies that are doing work that is often aligned perfectly student’s interest,” said Fox.
35% of respondents who listed the federal government as their ideal career and had actively begun their job search had not searched for positions on USA.jobs. This finding might underscore the lack of understanding about the federal government’s hiring process. Or may indicate that students don’t believe they will actually be able to land a federal job.
- Key Insight: “What we hear consistently is that kids in this generation are looking to make a difference. The federal government is an incredible place to do that. But it is not enough just to get people excited. You have to demystify the process as well and let them know what they need to do to cross the finish line. The federal process can always be improved, but educating folks on USA.jobs and letting them know what they can expect throughout the process can make navigating the process a whole lot easier,” said Fox.
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