By Christin Mack, Manager, Nonprofit and Government Executive Search
Research into Millennials often describes them as the “Giving Generation.” They’re not simply giving money, they’re volunteering, want to be part of community and advocating on behalf of issues that are important to them.
A passion for service makes this younger generation a perfect fit for careers in the public sector where giving-back in some shape or form is highly desirable. The challenge is attracting younger people to pursue careers with government agencies, public higher education institutions, quasi-government organizations, counties and cities.
At FGP, we’re seeing a significant shift in direct hire search requests in our government practice area. In the past, we have placed candidates primarily at the senior leadership level—agency or municipality administrators, divisional directors, and other executive leadership positions. Now, agencies seek assistance at many different levels as they recognize the benefit of recruiting for entry level associates and organically growing their leaders from within.
As the talent market continues to tighten, government entities need a strategy for attracting young people who have a passion for servant leadership and with natural abilities for community building.
An intentional effort to educate
Government agencies can begin by being more deliberate in their efforts to educate high school seniors and college freshmen about opportunities in the government sector.
For example, there presently is a high demand for urban planners. Educating students, high school guidance counselors and college advisors on these types of jobs and what the path to city planning and development looks like would be a worthwhile undertaking.
Partnering with high schools and particularly state-sponsored colleges on research or community projects is a way for cities and counties to engage young people. If your local government offices are near a school, find creative ways to get involved on the campus or offer opportunities for students to be involved in city or county programs.
Increase internship and co-op opportunities
High schools with STEM programs, technical colleges and four-year institutions all have students who are looking for internship opportunities. Partnering with schools that offer career paths to civil engineering, urban planning and public administration will help you make early connections to students in their formative years who likely are undecided about a major.
Education co-op programs that combine classroom-based education with practical work experience is another way to create interest in public sector careers and identify future employees.
Increase resources for recruiting
Historically, government agencies have not had the funding for dedicated and ongoing recruiting efforts. Raising awareness about the types of jobs available in the public sector, the benefits and opportunities for professional growth are important to dispel misconceptions about working for publicly supported agencies and institutions.
Now is the time to fund programs that can identify young people with a penchant for community service and educate them on the career benefits of working in the public sector.