Much has been written about the incoming retirement tsunamai in government and the potential brain drain. While there are many pieces to the government workforce problem (retainment issues, attracting mid-level hires, how to tap into retiring govies), an integral piece will be the government’s ability to attract Gen Y workers to government service.
Just today CNN published an article entitled “How to lure Gen Y workers? Do Good.” The crux of the story is that corporate recruiters for big corporations such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers highlight their community and environment-minded projects to draw civic-minded youth.
This follows up a June 2008 Washington Post Article entitled “The Amazing Adventures of Supergrad.” The part of the article I found fascinating had a similar theme. JPMorganChase holds a Good Ventures Charity contest for undergrads where they give $25,000 for the undergrad with the best non-profit project. The article argues that the bank holds this contest mainly as a way to get the best and brightest who are now often focused in doing good in their offices to convince them to becomes investment bankers. Just like the CNN article they use their charity projects and ability to take time to volunteer to recruit superstar undergrads to work for their investment bank.
The “Do Good” philosophy continues to grow and has even spawned a magazine. What I find great about this magazine (and their events) is they make “doing good” fun, cool, creative, and stylish.
The time is perfect for government to be staffing up and recruiting the best and brightest undergrads. Government offers the ability to “do good” on a range of important issues from hurricane relief, environment protection, the war on terror, and education reform. Plus, the government offers better pay than non-profits, pretty good work/life balance, and greater job security.
So why is government not seen as an employer of choice for undergrads. I think it comes down to a few key reasons:
1) Poor marketing. Besides the military, there is very little marketing of government jobs and usually it is not half as good as corporations such as KPMG, Deloitte, etc.
2) Byzantine process. The hiring process needs to be more straight-forward and similar to the private sector. The rise of government two-year rotation programs such as Army AK Leaders, ICMA Fellows program, and GAO PDP program are starts. We need more of these types of programs.
3) Lack of single national program for undergrads. There is no one singular prestigious program for entry in federal government for undergrads. We have the Presidential Management Fellows program for graduate students. We need a Teach for America, PeaceCorps, or AmeriCorps type program for federal service.
4) Selling the mission. We need to emphasize government is the employer of choice if you want to “do good.” Government often gets a bad rap so we have to education the importance of government service. Regardless of political preference, we need government to perform efficiently and effectively and provide necessary services at the local, state, and federal level.
What do you think the government should be doing to recruiting Gen Y to government service? I really think we need some fresh thinking on this topic instead of business as usual.