Millennial Views On Government

August 16

On of my favorite Mark Twain quotes was always “I never let my schooling interfere with my education” and having been schooled inside the beltway on how business is conducted for close to a decade I find it notable that the current state of affairs and research is pointing to the fact that the average Millennial in government service is leaving in just 3.8 years. [1] Given the fact that the retirement eligible in the public sector at most Federal agencies are trending above the 30% mark, Matthew Ferraro cited some very salient points which I hope will challenge the status quo or the old Potomac establishment to consider spending more resources for fellowship programs and career development pipelines that can help to address the state of Federal human capital management and role of talent acquisition in the public sector.

“Talented young people don’t dream of becoming great bureaucrats,” Fareed Zakaria writes. This may be true, but talented millennials do dream of being innovators, leading lives of purpose, and contributing to the public good.

In so far that 86 percent believe that the work they do is important and 75 percent believe that government has the potential to address societal challenges. In and above the reports from Office of Personnel Management and the White House on the business case. Almost 40,000 Millennial Feds work in STEM occupations and attracting new entrants to the Federal workforce, mentoring and grooming them for leadership roles and attracting more of them poses significant challenges unless we seek to reinvent personnel reform in bringing the Presidents’ vision of People & Culture to fruition. Supporting this notion Tom Shoop of Government Executive wrote a salient piece entitled When the Best & Brightest Say No to Government. He shared,

“There’s another problem: “the hiring system and a rule-bound operating structure that rewards longevity over creativity and initiative” posses another justification which is hard to ignore.”

Collaboration across sectors from government, to academia, to the private sector employers of choice will all need to work together as it will be hard to create traction to address more robust feeder programs that can work to support issues such as cybersecurity workforce, talent shortages in mission critical positions, and a renewed focus to reimagine government than really came as a result of efforts by the Clinton Administration. I suspect that the discussion and debates that will continue to linger, and more than ever should become painfully obvious but in so far that the current administration sought to make government jobs cool again, should not be a topic simply to make government work better, but help in the adoption of new approaches, new digital and employee advocacy platforms, bolstering managerial skill sets with open learning systems that is only going to come about via more transparency and accountability combined with resources to back it up.

If we consider those companies in the private sector that are boosting talent acquisition strategies according to Scanlon Media “The top five actions facilitated by technology for successful talent acquisition strategies in the coming year were: referrals (89 percent) applicant tracking (83 percent) background screening (70 percent, social recruiting (69 percent), onboarding (63 percent). More than 50 percent of survey respondents indicated that what keeps them up at night is recruiting hard to find skills in both leaders and employees, retaining premier talent and sustaining employee engagement. Seventy-three percent said that developing a talent pipeline was a struggle and more than a third of respondents had worries about onboarding effectiveness. The survey found that 77 percent of professionals do not currently link their recruitment and talent management systems.

At the same time the issues facing the Federal sector are indeed a common ground and echo similar concerns that will require we move past the transactional HR and to a more strategic, technology enabled view of the best ways to attract and engage, and retain this community.
Its time to revisit why we give endowments to Universities and what we as taxpayers should expect in return, In so far that we may find actionable solutions, and a deeper understanding on how best to attract the Millennial talent we will need, it begins for those like myself in recruitment communications with building viable personas and brands that can articulate with both drivers and destinations that can help clients support and build the business case for talent ecosystems so that we can let then let the best be bright, help our clients to make a difference and ultimately contribute strategic planning and metrics as well as data in more meaningful ways.

LinkedIn recently asked ten thousand candidates why they would change jobs and it is not surprising why Millennial talent are leaving if they are not given the career development opportunities they seek after a few years.

The same can be said for retention and on the topic from the findings in Best Places To Work In Government studies from the Partnership for Public Service point to some common sense hints as to” Improving the Employee Experience. What agency leaders can do to make the employee experience better” – but dare I say there are many across the Federal sector that still don’t actively promote recruitment marketing efforts, and when they do they fail to build out digital media plans and strategies that are firmly based around employer brand methodologies informed by Personas‘ like we do in the commercial sector. Agencies don’t quite understand more less promote the Pathways Program albeit some like NASA have started, and they still don’t utilize Schedule A to convert the differently abled talent they seek to attract and retain to full time equivalency status as was the intention behind LEAD.  Instead of competition, can we start to think about cooperation for a change. The Federal Advisor Certificate Program is a good start.

A good example of what is being done in the UK to address shortages of cyber talent are notable. Especially given the focus to engage former military to purse the growing field of cybersecurity and the myriad of occupational need areas around Mission Critical Occupations.  Take a look at the SANS Institute.

Another good example of an engineering challenge that was done in France by the SNCF



Its time to educate the marketplace, make the investment in our people and drive for the outcomes we seek. If not to make government work cool again to just make government work period. 



[1] Millennials’ Romance With Federal Service Need Not Last a Lifetime 11/06/14

[2]Government is Losting the War for the Best & Brightest 08/12/15

[3]When the Best & Brightest Say No to Government 05/28/15

[4] Companies Seen Boosting Talent Acquisition Strategies by Chris Scanlon  07/21/15

[5] The Future of HR in Government by Stewart Liff The Performance Institute

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