What’s Trending in Talent Acquisition? Implications for Hiring in the Public Sector

Last week at the UKG Workforce Institute, we launched a special partner series with Employ, the parent company of JazzHR, Lever, Jobvite, and NXTThing RPO, called “What’s Trending in Talent Acquisition?” This week, industry experts from UKG continue to dive into new research from Employ and discuss current talent acquisition trends across industries. 
If you haven’t done so already, check out part one, part two, and part three of our series. In today’s post, Bob Lavigna, industry fellow for the public sector at UKG, discusses national talent acquisition trends and their implications for government.

Across the United States, state and local governments are continuing to struggle to attract and retain talent. The results from Employ’s “Examining Employer and Job Seeker Realities” report provide important insights for government on the perceptions of job seekers and what employers are doing to respond to these expectations.

To compete in today’s intensely competitive talent market, public-sector organizations must understand the expectations of job seekers. Government also needs to understand the strategies that other employers are applying to meet hiring challenges in the ongoing competition for talent.

What Job Seekers Want

One key finding from the Employ national survey reinforces that employees continue to reassess their work and personal lives — and how they can integrate the two. As one local government employee recently remarked, “I want a job, but I also want a life.”

In the survey, 85% of respondents said they are “open” to other jobs and 43% are “actively looking.” Perhaps most striking, 41% reported they would be comfortable quitting without having another job lined up.Two in three respondents listed remote work as important to their decision to accept or reject a job, and 26% would reject an offer if the job required them to work on location full time. When asked about their ideal work arrangement, only 21% listed “in office.” The other 78% checked “all remote” or “50/50” (both 24%), “one or two days” (10%), and “at discretion of employee” (20%). It’s unclear why more didn’t select “at discretion,” since that seems to be truly ideal — at least for the employee!

The Employ report also explored job seekers’ expectations about the hiring process. Given that many government agencies are struggling to hire, these results are especially useful for the public sector.

For example, 80% of job seekers expect the application process to take 30 minutes or fewer. In other words, long and complicated applications, which too many government jobs still require, discourage candidates, especially the best qualified who have other options.

Moreover, by the day after they apply, candidates expect to receive an automated email (27%), a personal email (22%), or a phone call (11%). A significant number (73%) would conclude their application was unsuccessful if they were not contacted within two weeks.

Respondents were asked what they like least about the hiring experiences. “Length of time” was #1 (65%), followed by “lack of transparency” (60%).

How Employers Are Responding

When employers were asked to identify their key hiring priorities, they cited improving candidate quality (61%), improving hiring speed (44%), and increasing the number of candidates (41%).

To deliver on these priorities, employers are measuring hiring quality, taking more chances on different kinds of hires, planning to increase spending on their automated applicant tracking systems, raising salaries, trying to make the hiring process faster, providing more remote/hybrid opportunities, and overlooking résumé gaps.

Implications for Government Hiring

The Employ study provides additional signposts for government agencies struggling to attract talent. As the results show, employees are continuing to reassess what they want and are willing to vote with their feet if their organization fails to meet their needs. Job seekers want faster hiring, better communication, flexible work arrangements, and more career advancement opportunities.

And employers — the competition in this ongoing battle for talent — are focusing on hiring faster, measuring candidate quality, leveraging technology, offering remote work, and expanding candidate pools. And, if necessary, raising salaries, although this is not the long-term panacea some believe it is.

To compete for talent in the post-pandemic world of work, government must understand and meet both job seekers’ expectations and the competition’s strategies.

Want to learn more? Download the full report from Employ, and check back tomorrow here at the UKG Workforce Institute for the conclusion of our series What’s Trending in Talent Acquisition? — featuring a look at recruiting trends in manufacturing.