No quick fix to recruiting efforts

"Strategic Recruitment for Government"

The slumping economy is making it easier for agencies to win the recruiting wars with the private sector, but agencies shouldn't be fooled into thinking the battle for skilled workers has been won, according to The Performance Institute.

"The bad economy is giving government a reprieve," said Carl DeMaio, president of the Arlington, Va.-based Performance Institute. But planning innovative recruitment programs take time, he said. "Government should start now. We will have to compete again for talent and we'll have to be ready."

DeMaio said it is shocking how many agencies misunderstand the need for a comprehensive recruitment strategy. "Agencies need to understand they have an opportunity to improve the situation," he said. Some say they don't have to worry about it now, but "the demographics will change. People will retire."

In its report, "Strategic Recruitment for Government," released Feb. 25, DeMaio and co-author Patti Powers compiled a list of 10 innovative practices characteristic of successful federal human resources departments along with recommendations. The findings are based on interviews conducted with agencies since October 2002.

The 10 practices, which are designed to help HR managers, are:

1) Adopt a truly performance-based approach to workforce planning.

2) Promote government service through effective branding and marketing of the agency's mission.

3) Streamline hiring processes and create flexibilities to improve quality of life.

4) Design tailored strategies to recruiting specific skills sets.

5) Provide for market- and performance-based pay in government.

6) Use internships, fellowships and alternative staffing solutions.

7) Cultivate leadership through candidate development programs and strong senior executive evaluation systems.

8) Promote workforce diversity.

9) Outsource some recruitment activities.

10) Measure recruitment success.

Agencies are making progress on their efforts to recruit skilled workers, but some are more focused on process than outcome, Powers said. And agencies should remember that recruitment affects retention as well. "Recruitment and retention are intertwined," Powers said.

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