Insight by Yello

5 ways to modernize and automate your hiring process

The federal government has been anticipating a mass retirement event, often referred to as a “retirement tsunami,” for years. Around 15% of the current federal workforce is eligible to retire today, and 30% will be eligible within the next five years. At the same time, agencies have long struggled to attract younger talent and plan for the continuation of the workforce as older members retire. A tiny fraction of the federal workforce is under the...

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The federal government has been anticipating a mass retirement event, often referred to as a “retirement tsunami,” for years. Around 15% of the current federal workforce is eligible to retire today, and 30% will be eligible within the next five years. At the same time, agencies have long struggled to attract younger talent and plan for the continuation of the workforce as older members retire. A tiny fraction of the federal workforce is under the age of 30, while nearly half are over the age of 50. In addition, competition within the private sector is fierce, and younger applicants are deterred by the long and antiquated government hiring process.

In fact, the Chief Human Capital Officers  Council designated leveraging technology and modernizing legacy IT processes as their number one priority in their 2022 Federal HR Workforce Priorities Report. Dan Bartfield, cofounder of Yello, said there are five concrete steps federal agencies can take to make this a reality.

1. Automate in-person and virtual hiring events

Hiring events are a costly investment in both time and money. Event costs can easily exceed six figures and involve far more planning than just setting up a table and talking to potential candidates.

“There’s a lot more that goes into recruiting as far as the strategy and the administrative side of things,” Bartfield said. “What events are we going to participate in? Who is our target audience? What schools do we want to target? Who are the points of contact for these events? How do we register? How much does it cost? What staff members do we want to attend these events? All of those things are tracked typically in various spreadsheets, in someone’s head, and various emails.”

Collecting data into one single system and automating these administrative functions can help federal recruiters determine what events will provide the greatest return on investment, and help them build a long term proactive recruitment strategy. In turn, this also enhances the employee and candidate experience and provides agencies with the ability to leverage key data as a strategic asset to make informed decisions on attendance to these costly hiring events.

2. Don’t just “post-and-pray”

Federal agencies tend to use a strategy Bartfield refers to as “post-and-pray,” which essentially boils down to posting a job on USAJobs.gov and hoping qualified candidates apply. But Bartfield said agencies need to be more proactive, and focus on building a recruiting pipeline. Automating communications to potential candidates, like emails and text messages, is one way to stay top of mind for new talent looking to enter the workforce.

“You have so many different agencies and sub agencies it can be difficult to comprehend mission sets, and many people do not know what each agency does or who they are. And so much of early talent recruiting is branding,” he said. “So it gives you the ability to prove strategy. But also, it gives you the ability to actually build an ROI around your strategy.”

Creating a digital job board, fully integrated with USAJobs.gov, can help funnel more qualified candidates directly to an agency. It allows agencies to track the hiring process to better identify bottlenecks and dropoffs, in order to streamline the hiring process.

3. Invest in building a diverse workforce

Diversity, equity and inclusion is a major initiative in the federal government, and many agencies are working to prioritize hiring more diverse applicants. However, most still do not have formal strategies in place to achieve their goals.

“They go to a couple diversity events, and then go to a couple of historically Black colleges and universities. That’s not a strong strategy. Because everyone’s doing that,” Bartfield said.

Candidate sourcing databases can help federal agencies achieve more diversity in their hiring by opening the aperture to a far greater number of diverse candidates than they can reach at in-person events, which happen only a few days a year. Virtual hiring events, coffee chats and webinars are a few examples of low cost ways to develop a long term, consistent strategy of engagement with candidates, and they provide agencies with more opportunities to showcase their commitment to diversity.

4. Digitize and automate resume reviews

“Typically, when you review a resume at or after a big event you get a stack of resumes. From there, you actually have to flip through each individual resume, score and then send them to the right offices for further consideration,” Bartfield said. “With automation, all that information is captured in the recruiter’s mobile device. And then from there, they can perform dynamic searches, pick who they want, and then go ahead and invite them to interviews or send them to the right hiring manager. So, tasks that may currently take hours, we can get it down to minutes.”

The Office of Personnel Management set a hiring goal of 80 days; most agencies are not able to meet that goal, taking as long as 145 days. Bartfield said automation can reduce that timeframe to 30 to 45 days.

5. Leverage data to make decisions

The “retirement tsunami” threatens federal agencies with a massive loss of institutional knowledge. Without a central place to standardize and store data, agencies risk loss of institutional knowledge as more experienced workers retire. Leveraging a recruiting data repository can make life easier on new recruiters, with quick access to an enterprise-wide event calendar and candidate data post events. Also, the ability to easily track in-person and virtual event expenses, registration and performance metrics helps recruiters demonstrate their successes to leadership.

“The big piece that gets overlooked is the data aspect. Agencies often don’t use data in order to make strategic decisions. They don’t look at trends. They don’t look at data around what they’re doing now, and how they can improve their process,” Bartfield said. “A lot of agencies who do not use Yello are just guessing and hoping they are right. Our system gives you formatted data reports so you can make strategic decisions in order to be more efficient in the future, saving money and manpower you can re-allocate to other places within your organization.”