Public sector recruiting isn't keeping up with the business, and it hurts us all.
I've been actively looking for work the last few weeks, and so I've been looking at the front end of a lot of Applicant Tracking Systems. I can navigate the majority, but the whole world changes when I set foot onto a government site. If I want to work for the State of Connecticut, for example, I need to wade through this list.
You can't search it. Every job in the state is in alphabetical order, so if there's a “Senior” in front of the title, it goes under “S” instead of the functional title. It doesn't populate to Indeed.com or Simplyhired.com. When you click on a job, you get a PDF. And — the kicker — to actually apply to the job, you need to print out your resume, print out the application form, and put them in the mail.
Yup, in the Nutmeg State, with the highest per-capita income in the country, our recruiting process apparently hasn't changed substantially since the 1970's.
This isn't isolated, either. Want to work for the City of New Haven? Find the job listed all on this one page, and then print out and mail an application. And, see if you can tell what teaching jobs are open at your local school, or how to apply for them.
In all fairness, the Federal Government has actually done a good job of putting all of their jobs in one searchable, modern place: www.usajobs.gov. It's a pain to apply, in part because you have to set up two different profiles, but at least the jobs are in one place.
This isn't a “make fun of government” post. Government employees work for all the rest of us, and it's to our advantage that the best candidates get hired for those jobs. Th
e State of Connecticut isn't getting applications from *all* candidates out there — just those candidates bored, desperate, or focused enough to go directly to the state's listing page, and print and mail an application. If these jobs were in Indeed.com, they'd get more applicants. If you could apply online, they would get more applicants. Either way, more applicants means more candidates to choose from, and a better quality final candidate. As a taxpayer, you get a better employee this way.
If you're a state or municipal legislator, or just a concerned citizen, demand the following attributes of your hiring system:
- All jobs get listed on job search aggregators. Indeed.com is the biggest, but SimplyHired.com and JuJu.com are free to list on as well. You can also structure XML feeds to feed jobs to these directly. These are where people go first to find jobs.
- Eliminate paper from your application process. People my age aren't going to mail paper applications, we're just going to skip applying for the job. If your legislation requires paper applications, change the legislation.
- If you have weird civil service rules about how to apply, be sure that they're spelled out. Clearly. And evaluate how necessary those really are.
- Standardize job titles. The more government-specific the job is, the harder it is for an outside candidate to understand that they're qualified for it. For a particularly terrible example, look at the City of San Francisco's job postings: http://www.jobaps.com/SF/sup/images/default.asp
And Connecticut Department of Administrative Services: if you're not sure how to do this, give me a call. I've got plenty of time to do some consulting for you. And it's in my best interest; after all, these hires are going to work for me!
Steve Gifford, MBA, SPHR, is the Director of Human Resources for OEM America, a PEO of more than a hundred companies and more than two thousand employees. His company gives small businesses the buying power and HR expertise of a big company, but without the bureaucracy! In the past, he’s been the HR guy for marketing, manufacturing, retail, and government organizations. His first HR job was in the US Army during his second tour in Iraq, where every employee in his client group carried an automatic weapon. It helps him keep the problems of employees who show up to work late in perspective.