Changing the way state and local governments approach their retention and recruiting efforts might seem like a major process, but there are simple and easy steps that IT and human resources officials can implement that can have significant benefits.
These tips include:
1. Modernize IT Job Titles and Descriptions
This step was cited as the most impactful action an IT department can take, according to a recent survey of state CIOs by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO).
“A lot of titles for state and local government can be really outdated,” NASCIO Senior Policy Analyst Meredith Ward says, “so it’s really difficult to entice some young, talented IT person to come and do a job if they don’t even really recognize or understand what that job is and what it is you want them to do.”
2. Expose the Next Generation to Government Technology
Many state and local governments host “tech nights” and other educational programs, along with offering more internship opportunities, to make middle and high school students aware of the department and its role.
“Let students know, ‘Hey, this isn’t your father’s government IT department anymore,’” says Wei San Hui, intern program manager for the city of Austin. “Help them understand that we’re doing exciting technology work within the government, and that by coming in here and using their creativity, they are very much empowered to help make a change within their community.”
3. Build and Manage Your Agency's Brand
What do other people think about the organization? When the organization fails to define that, other people will, says Michael DeAngelo, deputy director for Washington Technology Solutions. When candidates believe that an organization is boring or not impactful, they won’t apply for a job.
“We don’t usually think about that in government, but recognize that you do have a brand and it’s being managed with or without you,” he advises. “Be proactive, be very self-aware and deliberate and deliver it.”
4. Highlight Your Value to Potential Employees
Millennials care deeply about making a difference in other people’s lives, a major differentiator for government work. But state and local agencies don’t always do a good job of highlighting that value proposition, says Peter Wallace, CIO for Virginia Beach.
“You have to be out there selling yourself, selling your organization, selling your value,” he says. “Advertise, apply for different awards that bring you attention and make sure that you and your staff are acting as ambassadors for your work and your purpose.”