As the need for talent is increasing, competition from the private sector is growing fiercer.
By Susan Fallon Brown
Byline Originally Posted on Government Executive
October 31, 2018
Employers across the country are facing critical skills gaps, and the federal government is no exception.
Missions are evolving quickly and agencies need new talent to keep the nation safe and deliver critical services. We talk a lot about the tech talent gap and the need for more cyber pros and data scientists, but government also has needs in areas like public health and federal law enforcement. Unfortunately, as the need for specialized talent is increasing, the competition from the private sector for hiring that talent is growing fiercer.
It’s time for a reality check: Talented people have options. These highly sought-after pros are heavily pursued by the private sector. Agencies are typically competing against higher salaries, corporate recruiters with compelling advertising campaigns, and a faster hiring process.
According to the Office of Personnel Management, the average hiring time for federal personnel is 106 days. This time lag can perpetuate the lack of trust employees have in their HR team’s recruitment capabilities. The most recent Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, released late last week, revealed that just 42 percent of federal employees felt their team had the ability to recruit people with the right skills. In addition, the time it takes to hire personnel—typically more than three months—causes federal agencies to lose out on viable candidates who cannot wait that long to take new job opportunities.
These are major workforce challenges that the current administration is trying to change. In the president’s management agenda, the Office of Management and Budget called on agencies to re-evaluate their current HR processes and technology in support of establishing the “workforce of the 21st century.”
In its 2019 budget proposal, the White House noted that “the private sector continually finds new ways to evolve human capital management programs to maximize the return from their most valuable asset: their people. The federal government should do no less.”
To evolve workforce strategies and remain competitive with the private sector, federal agencies need to overcome four common challenges in federal recruiting: