Federal workforce

Web 2.0 can recruit new workforce

The government should not ignore social-media tools in the quest for new hires

As the discussion about acquisition reform continues in Congress and throughout the federal government, a new emphasis is emerging on workforce development as critical to successful acquisitions. Concern about the nearing wave of large-scale retirements has grown for the past several years, yet no good solution has emerged.

Recent press coverage has highlighted the potential of Web 2.0 technologies, also referred to as Gov 2.0 initiatives, to enable the government to reach out to the largest pool of viable candidates with a messaging strategy that conveys the benefits of government service. President Barack Obama’s campaign used a comprehensive social-media model to connect and deliver information, and the government should be doing similar strategies when it comes to sharing information in hopes of attracting talent. One of the central tenets is to make government service attractive, and sharing information via social media is an effective way to inform the next-generation workforce.

Several agencies, including the CIA, NASA and the Defense Department are realizing the value proposition of social media and have taken a comprehensive effort to attract and hire talent from a range of sources. The General Services Administration has also been on the forefront of thought leadership combined with an investment in technologies to execute the agency's social-media strategies. Visionary leaders at GSA, such as David Drabkin, Mary Davie and Casey Coleman, use social media to share information with staff members and customers. That engagement in social media can have a direct effect on how effectively an agency reaches a receptive audience with its targeted messages.

Leadership is vital to help craft the culture’s comfort level with Web 2.0 technologies and risk-taking, in addition to creating a social-media strategy centered on the capabilities and skills of the target audience. Leaders should help convey the message, which should be specific to agency operations. This message should be crafted both internally and externally — for example, on an agency's Web site though the use of blogs and video content — in addition to allowing conversation and the ability to solicit feedback and post responses. Agencies should also showcase the organization as a great place to work by highlighting their people and what they do.

Leaders should also help craft culture by educating staff members on the benefits of Web 2.0 technologies and how social media affects their work and performance, in an effort to help retain talent and give new hires from the next-generation workforce opportunities to perform and keep them engaged so they feel that government is where they want to be.

The next generation of federal employees will be looking for a government presence in social media, and the government will suffer if it is not there.

About the Author

Jaime Gracia is president and CEO of Seville Government Consulting, a federal acquisition and program management consulting firm.

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Reader comments

Fri, Jul 10, 2009 Andrew Krzmarzick Durham, NC

Hi Jaime - I posted a similar comment over on GovLoop, where there are some great blogs annd conversations happening on this topic - initiated by people like Mary Davie, whom you reference. Readers here may also be interested in this slide deck for a presentation entitled "HR 2.0: Using Social Media to Recruit, Retain and Train." http://www.slideshare.net/akrzmarzick/web-20-and-federal-hr-policy-forum

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