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.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

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

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group