Tips for Recruiting Millennials for Local Government Employment in the Age of Mobile (Industry Perspective)

The silver tsunami is coming, and standing in its wake are 89,000 local governments in the U.S.

by Jonathan Wiersma, CivicHR / May 5, 2017

The silver tsunami is coming, and standing in its wake are more than 89,000 local governments across the United States. It’s projected that by 2018, 28 percent of public-sector workers will have reached age 61. As these older employees begin to retire, they will need to be replaced. And as local government human resource departments brace for the impact of the silver tsunami, they are wisely beginning to develop strategies focusing on recruiting the next generation of local government employees: millennials.

Compared to their private-sector counterparts, local governments are at a higher risk of the impact of the silver tsunami because they typically employ a less age-diverse workforce. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age of government employees is 45.3, compared to the median age of 42.3 in the nation’s workforce as a whole.

What Do Millennials Want from Employers?

Millennials are those born between 1980 and 2000, making them approximately ages 17 to 37. As adults, this generation has shown a dependence upon technology, and are looking for jobs where they will remain engaged, motivated and acknowledged. According to the Harvard Business Review:

  • Millennials want to know that they have a defined career path and advancement opportunities.
  • Millennials want a manager who will be a mentor and adviser, and will help them achieve their personal career goals.
  • Not satisfied unless they find their work personally stimulating, millennials want to work for an organization or community that they care about.

The Importance of Mobile When Recruiting Millennials

According to comScore Media Metrix, 21 percent of millennials almost exclusively use a mobile device to go online, and according to a study conducted by Jobvite, 37 percent of millennial job seekers expect career websites to be optimized for mobile, allowing them to search for jobs anytime and any place. To attract today’s mobile-savvy job seekers, local governments need to ensure that job postings or digital talent acquisition tools are optimized for mobile by following these best practices:

  • If you are using an applicant tracking software solution to streamline the job recruitment process, make sure your solution is optimized for mobile so that job postings can be easily read and responded to by mobile device users.
  • Write concise job descriptions that can easily be read or scanned from a mobile device screen.
  • Ensure the employment page of your local government website is mobile optimized. Not only will it give job searchers viewing your site from a mobile device a better experience, mobile-optimized content will rank higher on search engines such as Google and Bing.
  • Use online forms for job applications, rather than downloadable PDFs that can be impossible for some users to download, complete and submit from a mobile device.
  • Reduce the total amount of career pages a job seeker will need to search through on your website. Slow, repeated page loads can be frustrating to mobile users.
  • Use dropdown menus and yes/no responses to primary application questions to minimize free-text response requirements, which are more time consuming to complete for mobile users.

Leverage the Power of Social Media

Millennials are more likely than earlier generations to find job opportunities using social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. In fact, an Aberdeen study reports that 73 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds found their last job through a social network. Many job seekers are even using social media to share employment opportunities and refer friends and colleagues, making it a powerful platform for amplifying the reach of your job openings. If you’re ready to leverage the power of social media to help identify and attract talent for your civic staff, start by implementing these best practices:

  • Create a YouTube channel and post videos that describe what makes your community unique and the benefits of working for your local government.
  • Share job openings on your community Facebook page, and encourage leaders in your administration to share the posts as well.
  • Make sure your Facebook community page includes a job board to offer citizens another channel to learn about open positions.
  • Provide the ability to apply to open positions using a LinkedIn profile. This expedites the ability for job seekers to submit an application.
  • Promote available job positions using paid Facebook ads. For a minimal investment, you can set up highly targeted advertisements that reach both active and passive job seekers.
  • Keep your community social media profiles active with constantly updating content that demonstrates the benefits of civic employment.

Before the silver tsunami has an opportunity to leave your municipal administration understaffed, overwhelmed and missing key personnel, begin the process of actively recruiting and hiring millennials into your workforce. By targeting millennials using the most impactful recruitment channels, and onboarding them before their predecessors’ ultimate retirements, your community will be well positioned to both benefit from historical institutional knowledge, as well as new perspectives and the skills of younger generations.

Jonathan Wiersma is the general manager for CivicHR. His primary focus at CivicPlus is on following the trends in the local government human resource landscape, and leading product enhancements for CivicHR to ensure the solution evolves as the needs of local government evolve.