Nov 22 2022

How State and Local Governments Can Win the IT Hiring Competition

Automation and digitization can potentially increase agency workforce retention.

Caught between a pandemic recovery and the “great resignation,” state and local IT leaders have expressed major concerns about hiring and retaining a capable IT workforce, according to a 2022 state CIO survey by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

Demand for IT talent is expected to continue to skyrocket, forcing state and local agencies to compete with private industry and federal agencies for a limited talent pool. For potential applicants, industry is often more appealing due to the public sector’s lack of flexibility around remote work, prolonged onboarding processes, and outdated technology and tools. 

To successfully close the hiring gap, state and local agencies must update current hiring methods to meet job seekers’ expectations and implement attractive solutions, such as increased flexibility and improved employee experience.

Click on the banner below to explore technology insights by becoming an Insider.

Agencies Should Modernize Their Digital Application Process

To make state and local government jobs more appealing to young IT professionals, hiring processes must match the competitive standards of the job market.

One easy way to make jobs more attractive to entry- and mid-level applicants is to modernize the digital application process to allow candidates to apply from any device at any time. Sixty-seven percent of professionals applied for jobs using mobile devices in 2021, and these numbers are likely to continue rising in the age of hybrid work.

A smooth, mobile-based application process is what young professionals have come to expect when applying to well-known consumer product and tech companies. By modernizing their online application process, agencies can remain competitive while also reaching a larger range of IT professionals.

However, easy applications are not enough; onboarding must also be fast and smooth. Time to hire for state and local agencies can ranged up to 119 days, three times the length of the private sector, according to a survey by Neogov. Too often, agencies lose potential candidates due to the lengthy and complex onboarding process.

One simple fix is digitizing paper forms and implementing secure e-signature solutions. Once candidates are hired, there is a lot of paperwork required to get IT staff ready for work. Everything from offer letters to tax forms and security clearances may require filling out and signing paper forms.

Digitizing these processes reduces unnecessary costs and backlogs that state and local agency systems are struggling to manage, while also saving government a trillion dollars that can be used to create a more user-friendly experience.

DISCOVER: What state CISOs identify as workforce and cooperation challenges.

Retaining Talent Is Critical to State and Local Workforces

Once state and local agencies hire IT professionals, retention proves challenging; 69 percent of agencies reported high resignation numbers in 2022, and over half of state and local employees say they feel burned out.

Good employee experience is key to retaining talent. If IT employees see that they can do similar jobs more easily in the private sector, they’ll apply elsewhere.

To combat this, organizations may consider adopting automation and AI technology to enable employees to prioritize higher-value work with increased visibility into the value of their contributions. By allowing AI to take on tedious work, such as reviewing the number of applications an organization uses, employee workflows can be optimized, reducing strain on the entire system and improving retention.

Further, state and local governments should embrace creative solutions. One excellent example is a grant program that encourages rural youth to major in IT and receive loan forgiveness after five years of public service.

By streamlining the hiring and onboarding process and fully embracing industry-leading technology to reduce the administrative burden on employees, state and local governments can begin to build faith in promising, young IT professionals that working in this sector can produce a fruitful, stable and enjoyable career.

ljubaphoto/Getty Images

Learn from Your Peers

What can you glean about security from other IT pros? Check out new CDW research and insight from our experts.