Stress Mission and Impact to Attract Talent, Federal Agencies Told

    A new report on recruiting fresh talent to federal agencies adds another “M” to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) acronym – this one standing for medical.

    While some federal agencies – think NASA – hire more STEMM talent than others, these skills are vital to all agencies, according to the report from the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton. It’s called “The Biggest Bang Theory: How to get the most out of the competitive search for STEMM employees.”

    It says that attracting talent doesn’t require a big marketing budget, but that clearly articulating the agency’s mission can be a real draw. Where else, for instance, can a candidate work on building a Mars rover or be part of the cybersecurity team protecting the nation’s networks?

    As I wrote previously about how startups lure talent in some ways more effectively than established companies that pay more, they do so by stressing the meaning and impact of the jobs.

    Federal jobs can allow younger talent to serve their country while also performing meaningful work.

    Federal News Radio quotes from the report:

    “Not enough agencies use the appeal of their mission to impress potential employees. They must promote how their mission contributes to the protection, health and safety of the nation, and communicate how it is distinctively desirable to further that mission.”

     “… They must communicate the appeal of particular projects and the work environment, as well as the caliber of colleagues STEMM candidates would find there.”

    It suggests that agencies take cues from successful strategies in the private sector – though that doesn’t necessarily mean giving out free kittens or other “perks” that sometimes get downright silly. But it does require strategies to attract candidates’ attention and maintaining work force “magnets” to retain employees and bolster recruitment.

    It points to National Security Agency’s interactive websites and summer work programs in which students are given math problems that vex even NSA’s staff as effective programs. NSA’s 20/20 program also enables employees to work 20 hours a week while pursuing higher education.

    Among the report’s more controversial suggestions is that Congress reconsider its citizenship requirements for federal employment:

    “Many non-U.S. citizens contribute stellar research and other highly needed skills in STEMM fields but are unable to serve in full-time government positions. Congress should examine the necessity of the requirement for employees in STEMM fields to be U.S. citizens, or consider creating a citizenship path similar to the Department of Defense’s Citizenship for Service clause, which allows non-U.S. citizens serving in the U.S. armed forces, and certain veterans, to be eligible for full citizenship.”

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