By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

The Lectern: Young people speak out at ELC

I am actually travelling in the United States now, namely to Williamsburg, Va., for the annual big IT conference, the 800+ person Executive Leadership Conference which (department of "am I really that old?") I have attended pretty much every year since 1993. I attended the acquisition track, but I got a report about a panel in the "human capital" track consisting of a number of young feds, talking about getting jobs in government and what makes federal jobs meaningful.


Readers of my column and blog will probably not be hugely surprised by the message, but it is important for the federal community to hear it from a number of young feds, none of whom is from Harvard. (I have taken a wee bit of flack for elitism for my efforts to try to encourage Harvard students into government, as if the government didn't need really smart and dedicated Harvard students in its ranks as much as the private sector does.)


At any rate, here are the young people's messages.


First, USAJobs is largely worthless, and the hiring process is broken -- job applications through USAJobs go into a black hole, the federal "KSA" system for asssessing people for jobs is bureaucratic, and applicants don't get the kind of high touch attention they often get when applying for jobs in industry.


Second, the most important reason to go into federal service is belief in the mission and the desire to make a contribution. (Young people also like work-family balance: in the report to me, one person stated something like "we want to work hard, but we also want to be able to have a family life.")


Third, the new hires want meaningful work that gives them an understanding of how what they do relates to the missions they care about.


Get the message, older generation?


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Posted by Steve Kelman on Oct 23, 2007 at 12:08 PM


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