With Millennials comprising only 8.5 percent of the federal workforce, agencies must attract, hire, and retain top talent from colleges and universities to ensure our government is positioned to tackle the country’s most pressing problems. What steps do agencies need to take to address this challenge? How can they do a better job of attracting the best and brightest?

In a new analysis, the Partnership for Public Service working with the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) analyzed a survey of more than 37,000 students from 646 colleges and universities, asking about everything from their expectations about their first job to whether they would consider a career in public service. The results revealed a complex picture.

While only 2 percent of college students surveyed said they planned to enter federal service after graduation, 5.7 percent listed federal service as their ideal career. To help capitalize on this interest, the analysis includes strategies that federal managers and recruiters can employ to better draw top graduates.

Strengthen understanding of the federal job application process among college students, help them navigate the process and ensure that top candidates receive thorough consideration. The NACE survey found that college students underutilized USAJOBS.gov, the federal government’s online portal to search and apply for jobs. Only 8.8 percent of students reported job searching on USAJOBS, compared with the percentages of students who visited other leading sites such as LinkedIn (17.3 percent), Career Builder (15.5 percent) and Monster (14.5 percent). 

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Hone recruitment efforts to highlight the job attributes and benefits that students most desire. The survey asked students to rate 16 job attributes in terms of their importance in choosing among potential employers. Opportunity for personal growth and development topped the list, followed by job security, friendly co-workers, and a good insurance and benefits package. When students were surveyed, they stressed the importance of recognition for good performance, with 75.3 percent agreeing that it is critical when considering potential employers.  

Use student internships and volunteer opportunities to maintain interest in federal employment, evaluate talent and build a workforce pipeline, even if agencies are not currently hiring. Federal interns reported having fairly positive internship experiences; 46.2 percent said they likely or certainly would accept a full-time position with the organization in which they interned. However, only 19.5 percent reported receiving a job offer from that agency (compared with 27.3 percent of private-sector interns). 

Foster a workplace culture that is attractive to the next generation of employees and will retain new hires. When students were surveyed, they stressed the importance of recognition for good performance, with 75.3 percent agreeing that it is critical when considering potential employers.

To learn more, download the PPS Issue Brief at http://ourpublicservice.org/OPS/publications/download.php?id=236.