Use innovation in recruiting, HR experts tell agencies

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The government needs to adopt more innovative strategies in recruiting, developing and training new employees as the federal retirement wave starts to crest in coming years, human resources experts said March 14.

“Much of the talent today outside the federal government does not think about government service as a primary choice,” Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, said at an Association for Federal Information Resources Management luncheon panel in Washington, D.C. “When they think about public service, they think about the nonprofit sector, not the public sector.”

The government needs to be more active in addressing this knowledge gap, Stier said. “Most agencies approach recruiting talent as a passive experience,” he said. “They post a job on the Web and typically they post it in language that is not all that attractive. That’s not enough.”

One way of recruiting people to public service is to take a “career patterns” approach, said Janet Barnes, chief information officer at the Office of Personnel Management, told the audience.

“The idea of looking at career patterns is a new concept” developed by OPM, Barnes said.

Through using career patterns, human resources managers can shape their workforce planning efforts by creating alternative work arrangements that will attract and retain talent, she said. For example, Barnes said, retirees from the private sector might be induced to work for the government in very specialized positions for several months.

It’s a question of taking “advantage of those populations and matching up work characteristics with the available pool of talent,” she said.

Agencies must perform market research “in much greater depth and around specific career patterns” to attract a new talent pool, Stier said.

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