By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

The Lectern: A student view of how to recruit students for government

Second-year master’s students at the Kennedy School do a consulting project (called a “policy analysis exercise”) for a real client as part of their graduation requirements. Over the years, the Partnership for Public Service has been the client for a number of fantastic projects students of mine have done. The latest in this distinguished body of student work is a report my student (and course assistant) Steve Ander just completed, called "From Brain Drain to Brain Gain: Fixing U.S. Government College Recruitment." I was really pleased to see that Steve’s report got picked up by the daily.
Steve addresses a number of issues in his report.  Let me note a few of the most actionable ones:
First, government agencies still tend to emphasize career fairs as a way to reach out to students, while interviews with college students suggested that career fairs are one of students’ least-preferred ways of learning about jobs.  Students preferred to get information from social networking sites and from e-mails via groups or which they already are members. These are, of course, less expensive ways of communicating, and agencies might want to redirect career fair resources into other activities – such as e-mail follow-ups with job applicants about the status of their applications.
Second, companies are more active than government on Facebook and other social networking sites. Most large firms have themselves established Facebook groups for the company; few government agencies have done so. (One exception is the NASA SEWP group of I am a member – good job, Joanne Woytek!) Many firms also have Facebook groups for some local offices and even for company interns. Lots of students report getting a significant amount of news from social news sites such as, where users themselves enter news content. Government has almost no agency-generated presence on (to be fair, companies don’t either). This is an opportunity for government agencies to establish more of a social networking presence, through employees posting on Digg.
Third, students want employers to explain how jobs are related to their majors. In some cases (a geology major working for the U.S. Geological Survey), this is obvious. But students won’t necessarily know that a job in contracting relates to having been a business major. Government recruiting efforts seldom emphasize a link to student majors.
Steve also asked why OPM has not negotiated cross-postings between jobs listed on USAJobs and Monster’s own job Web site (Monster manages USAJobs for the government), which has far more hits than USAJobs. OPM, any comments here?
Lots more in this report – check it out!
And any agencies that would like a student consulting project for the next academic year – the students get started in October and hand it in in March – please contact me!
The link to the report is

Posted by Steve Kelman on Apr 22, 2009 at 12:08 PM


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