Insight by HireVue

CX Exchange 2023: HireVue’s retired Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick on recruiting next-generation federal workforce

Federal hiring managers are devising innovative approaches and using new tools to vet candidates. Retired Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, who’s a board advisor to Hi...

The federal government faces new challenges trying to recruit a new generation of employees to join its ranks.

Agencies are adapting to a hybrid workforce model, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced much of the federal workforce to work from home. Meanwhile, federal hiring managers are rethinking the way they vet candidates and are looking to prioritize skills-based hiring.

Agencies, however, aren’t the only employers coming to terms with the future of work and new expectations from candidates.

Retired Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, the Army’s former director of human resources, now a board advisor for HireVue, said the public and private sectors face similar recruitment challenges.

“One of the similarities that we’re all facing now, in a post-COVID environment, is a lot of people and organizations have learned to work from home, so they can recruit from all over the country — in some cases, all over the world — and still run their companies effectively,” Bostick said during the Federal News Network 2023 CX Exchange. “Some organizations have to rely on teamwork, hands-on activities, so those workers need to be at the organization in which they serve. But ultimately, it’s going to be a combination of both.”

Bostick said he expects the federal government, to a lesser degree than private organizations, will have to balance between remote and in-person work.

OPM pushes for changes in hiring focus

The Office of Personnel Management, in an effort to recruit specialized workers with in-demand skills, has also been leading a whole-of-government effort to prioritize skills-based hiring rather than rely on a candidates’ credentials or resumes.

Bostick said it’s important for public and private employers to understand which candidates are the best fit for specific jobs before bringing them on board. He recalled that Army recruiters during his tenure had to talk to about 150 people to bring one individual into the service.

“It was a tough duty for recruiters. It’s equally challenging on the outside,” he said.

The challenges don’t end with recruitment for certain federal roles, Bostwick noted. For instance, the military services also see drop-offs because some recruits don’t make it through basic training.

“You’ve invested a lot of time and energy and money in order to bring that person in, only to find them fail in their service to the organization,” Bostick said. “It’s really important to try to figure out the real skills that are necessary. Does that person have those skills in order to execute the job they need to do?”

Hiring tech lets agencies evaluate candidates’ skills in action

HireVue gives users the ability to vet candidates through game-based assessments and coding challenges that help an organization determine if potential hires have necessary code-writing or other skills.

“You can do that before you hire somebody [and] go through the entire hiring process, to find that they’re not as good as you thought they were based on their credentials,” Bostick said. “If there’s a way to find out whether the skills that this person has or believes they have will resonate and work in the organization that you have, then you’ve got the right balance, and some organizations are doing that better than others.”

While agencies often lean on their unique missions as an incentive to prospective hires, the government’s lengthy and complex application process drives some in-demand applicants to look elsewhere for work, he said.

“The old method of recruiting that most of the government still uses is very challenging. It takes a long time, and in this day and age, where there’s still a fight for talent, the longer that process takes — the more frustrating that process is — the more difficult it is going to be to bring that person on,” Bostick said.

Space Force, as the newest of the military branches, is now competing for talent with other sought-after employers, including NASA — a longtime top contender on the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government list — and SpaceX.

But Bostick pointed out that perhaps promising candidates did not realize the scope of career opportunities at Space Force.

Agencies try new promotional recruiting tactics

To address that, Space Force is using HireVue’s services to help identify and recruit new graduates from the Air Force Academy and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, as well as other potential talent pools.

“Space Force doesn’t want to do what the other branches of the military are doing. It wants to leap ahead in terms of how it’s recruiting,” Bostick said.

A similar competition for talent is happening across the Intelligence Community, and some IC agencies are relying on HireVue’s tools as well as other commercial solutions to identify in-demand workers.

“Obviously, the intel agencies are very important to our national security. They need highly talented folks,” Bostick said.

To read or watch other sessions on demand, go to our 2023 CX Exchange event page.

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