Declining budgets seem to be the norm in the present. Governments are being asked to do more with less. This does not mean that government needs to cut the quality of its work. It just means that government needs to do things better. Government needs to work smarter not harder. This is apparent in the hiring process. If government wants to restore the luster that it once enjoyed it will be the people who work in government that will lead the way.
How do you do this? Start with the beginning. The hiring process. If one wants to overcome challenges having smart dedicated people working in concert towards a common goal is the way to do it. What hiring managers need to reconcile is how to find these people. Selden tells us that quality of new hires is significantly higher when one receives more applications, has better hiring Web pages, and recruits through central college programs.
The internet and its technological advances provide the basis for a streamlined process. Job announcements on the web and electronic applications make it far easier for applicants to find openings and apply for them. Anyone with computer access can do it. Gone are the days of hunting through classified ads or going to offices to look at postings on a wall. A click of the mouse and a swipe of the cursor is all you need. The internet allows the process to speed up. Applications can be submitted by a job seeker and reviewed by the hiring manager in the same day. Contact can be had via cell phone or email. There’s no need to wait for the post office to deliver an application, job offer, or rejection letter. Electronic means of applying also saves significant dollars. The cost of paper is reduced. Time spent by hiring managers is reduced making these busy professionals more productive.
When it comes to government hiring, the top of the food chain is the federal government. Recognizing the changing times President Obama sought to institute massive reform in the hiring process. In 2010 the President initiated changes to process with the goal of streamlining the application procedure. Gone were the cumbersome essays to demonstrate knowledge, skills and competencies. Instead a resume and cover letter will now suffice. In addition, the process eliminated the “rule of three” which limited hiring managers. Shared registers were created so that different divisions in the same agency could view the applicant pool. The changes also hope to cut hiring time drastically by as much as half. Finally, position descriptions were to simplified.
All of this reform was done with the purpose of making it easier for applicants to navigate through the process and allowing government to compete with the private sector for the best and brightest. Too many applicants, intimidated by the cumbersome government process, were turning away. These reforms also will help the government from a technology standpoint in that software used by the private sector and other tools for evaluating candidates may be employed. Still, this may not be enough.
Hiring managers must learn to look to other methods to improve the quality of their applicants and inevitably their hires. As an alternative to the traditional hiring of career employees governments need to think outside of the box. Governments need to look for alternatives that are either low cost or no cost to them. There are programs available that can provide such labor. One such program is the University of Miami School of Law’s Legal Corps Fellowship program.
Started in 2010, this program seeks to place a recent law graduate in the public sector in organizations nationwide. The purpose of the program is twofold. First, it seeks to fill the gaps at understaffed public agencies by providing skilled attorneys. Second, it provides an opportunity for these recent graduates to get some experience working in a government agency while earning money. Applicants to the program must have been admitted to a state bar or awaiting “character and fitness results” to be sworn –in in the immediate future. They must be sworn in by the time the fellowship commences. Fellows receive a $2,500 per month stipend during the six month fellowship term. Fellows also participate in professional development workshops for which they may receive continuing legal education credits. Fellows also receive career development assistance.
Here is where the program is beneficial to the government agency: the cost is borne by the law school. The agency does not pay for the stipend. The agency does not pay for the development workshops. The agency does not have to provide health insurance or other benefits to the participants. The agency may have some administrative cost related to having the person in the office such as providing a computer and other supplies but when this is offset by the work produced it should more than make up for that minimal expense. It’s essentially a win-win-win proposition for all three involved. The agency gets the benefit of an attorney working in its office and helping an overloaded staff. The Fellow gets the benefit of legal experience while receiving a stipend. The law school receives the prestige associated with a successful program, the gratefulness of the agency, and the satisfaction of knowing that it is helping its graduates to obtain a fulfilling career. Should the Fellow excel at the work and a position becomes open it makes sense for that person to receive a permanent job.
This program addresses the challenges addressed above. The agency is provided with an applicant who arrives with human competency in the field based on schooling and whatever training the applicant received during law school at prior internships or clerkships. The Fellow has the chance to develop these competencies further through hands-on work. For the agency, the issue of a reduced budget is addressed. Another body is added to provide assistance at little or no additional cost to a strained financial situation.
The article discusses the problems an applicant encounters in applying for federal employment. Although reform has taken place, there are still improvements to be made. The problems facing applicants include long convoluted forms to complete, incomprehensible job descriptions, and hearing nothing from the hiring agency after submission of an application. the article does a good job of summarizing the frustrations of job seekers who look to the federal government for employment and provides reasons for why federal government is losing out on these highly qualified applicants.
This article is presented to show a hiring perpective from the private industry side. The main point of the article the author is making is that “cost per hire” is a pointless exercise and can even hurt recruiting. Focusing on cost per hire has the effect of shifting focus from finding the best candidate to cost reduction. The author contends that a hiring manager should focus on other aspects such as “return on investment” as a better metric. The author states that instead of focusing on costs recruiting leaders should look at on the job performance of new hires and the dollar impact on the business of great hires. The article would be useful to the class for the express purpose of providing a counter-point to those made by Berman, et al and Selden. it shows the mindset of private industry as compared to the public sector.
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