WASHINGTON – With half of the federal workforce slated to retire in the next five years, the federal government has turned to private industry to help bring its recruiting efforts into the Internet age.
Monster Public Service, a joint effort announced last week by Monster.com and the Partnership for Public Service, hopes reach already-Internet-savvy young people through e-recruitment.
"We have some 100-year-old habits," said Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor. "The way we look into recruiting is antiquated."
A section of the existing Monster.com site will provide information on thousands of available government jobs as well as information on government benefits, said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service.
All federal agencies, including the proposed Department of Homeland Security, will list job openings on Monster.com for $305 per listing.
Agencies will get a volume discount, the more they advertise.
In a Monster.com poll, 80 percent of people would consider a job in government, but Taylor said the current advertising methods do not attract qualified young people.
Currently, all available government jobs are posted at www.USAJobs.opm.gov. But information in the listings is often difficult to understand. Taylor, who unrolled a 10-page-long job listing from the current site, said job descriptions would be shorter on his site. He also hopes to rename the top-1,000 federal job titles to more closely match those in private industry.
Revamping recruitment approaches allows the government take advantage of the economic downturn in the private sector, he said.
"There's no better time to talk about human capital issues," he said. "There's a momentum in the works that I think we need to capitalize on."
Peter Hart, the president of Hart Research, said job security is no longer the magnet for public-sector jobs that it used to be. Younger employees look for career opportunities, he said, but believe a government career leaves little advancement opportunity.
Hart said one solution is tapping into young peoples' patriotism.
"They think, `I'm afraid I'm going to be stuck as a bureaucrat,' and when you talk them through it, their faces light up," he said. "People no longer look at the government as `the government,' but `our government.' People under age 30 have come positively through Sept. 11."
Stier agreed that retaining employees must be addressed. Compensating workers more on their performance and less on seniority would help keep workers from leaving for higher-paying jobs in private industries, he said.
"Retainment is the opposite of recruitment," Stier said. "You really need to re-recruit your existing talent and get them to stay."
Jocelyn Talbot, the senior vice president for Monster.com government solutions, said 2,000 to 3,000 federal jobs posted in the past six months received thousands of inquiries. She could not say how many people applied to the open positions.
Similar online job sites have also looked to the federal government as potential clients. Ernie Kueffner, the director of client services for HotJobs.com, said the partnership would not affect his company's ability to sell listings to the government.
"This is one of many initiatives to come," he said. "We have 100 percent intent in being a major participant. The federal market is now understanding the range e-recruitment captures."
Taylor said that the degree of patriotism felt by Americans decades ago no longer exists. But young people can still be lured into government jobs, with the right pitch and the right mix of information, he said.
"We need to move from the Kennedy-era, `Ask not what your country can do,'" Taylor said. "That's important, but we need to move from emotional to best practice.
"In order to survive, we need to get some best practices in the government," he said.