E-Recruiting for Local Government

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Luisa Beltran and Caley Patten

Caley Patten and Luisa Agathon are both UNC-MPA alums and ICMA fellows. Caley is a joint fellow with both the City and County of Durham serving within the City Budget and Management Services Office and County Manager's Office. Luisa is a Management Analyst with the Neighbor Support Department for the City of Fort Lauderdale.

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In the digital age, recruiting does not happen in the office from just nine to five. The best candidates are searching for jobs around the clock. They are browsing through your website and drawing quick conclusions about you (the employer) based on the look, feel and usability of your site.  And if you catch their attention, they will be using their mobile devices to check your latest employment opportunities.

We learned a thing or two about e-recruitment as part of our MPA HR service learning project for the City of Alexandria. In researching best practices on e-recruitment for Alexandria, our team identified two easy steps applicable to any local government: create a great HR website and make it mobile-optimized.

Create a Great HR Website

An organization’s website is the first interaction job seekers have with potential employers. The first step in successfully attracting, recruiting, and retaining the most talented employees is

to update your organization’s Human Resources page on your website.

  1. Use Pictures. From the start you want to make a descriptive first impression on your website. The HR website should showcase your community’s unique appeal by including images from popular landmarks, impressive landscape views, and happy employees. Pictures have the ability to personify positions and places.
  1. Sell Your Jobs. The website should highlight and emphasize the benefits of working for your organization. Key phrases such as “Continuous Learning” and “Work-Life Balance” should be bolded and exemplified with images to attract possible job applicants if your organization truly promotes these ideas.

An example of using images and highlighting key strengths comes from Arlington County, Virginia. When job candidates first clicks on their HR website, they are immediately introduced to everything Arlington County has to offer as an employer and as a community in which to live. Arlington County does an excellent job of bolding the keywords they want interested job applicants to learn about in their employment culture.

  1. Have Employees Testify. Employee testimonial videos are powerful and quick ways to further exploit your organization’s brand and convey the benefits of becoming an employee for your organization. Again, it helps the potential applicant personify the organization and the community.

Arlington County, VA again provides a  best practice example. On the front of Arlington County’s Human Resources page, there is a two minute video called “Arlington Works” that features four employees from around the County: a Deputy Sheriff, an Employee Wellness Program Manager, a Collaborative Services Manager, and a Television Producer. In this video, the employees describe why they enjoy working for Arlington County. The employee testimonials echoed many of the same themes regarding career-advancement opportunities, work-life balance, and other important benefits that further extends the brand and recruitment message.

Overall, your organization’s website should be consistent and clear in order to attract the viewer and should explicitly describe the benefits of working and living in the community. Ultimately, an ideal website demonstrates a commitment to recruiting best applicants, because high-quality content will help lead to high-quality candidates.

Make it appealing for small screen users!

A great HR website alone is not enough. In 2013, CareerBuilder estimated that  9.3 million workers searched for jobs via their mobile devices.  Nowadays, it is not  simply about having a mobile-friendly website, it needs to be a mobile-optimized site meaning that it will reformat itself to hand-held or tablet devices, include larger navigation buttons, and optimized images.

The key to a mobile-optimized site is about keeping the content simple, legible, and easy to access.

Listed below are five questions to help you evaluate your current mobile-optimized website:

  1. Is it fast? The site should load in under 5 seconds.
  2. Is it legible? Users should be able to read the page without zooming
  3. Is it thumb-friendly? All actionable targets should be clickable without zooming
  4. Is there a “Click to Call” button? There should be a prevalent call button
  5. Is it brief? Minimize wording and headings ideally to only 3-4 words

Without a mobile-optimized site, your local government may be signaling that it is outdated or difficult to engage with.

CONCLUSION:

To connect with future employees make sure your HR page looks appealing by capturing great images of your community. Don’t always be the one to tell your story, let your employees share what they enjoy the most working for your jurisdiction. And don’t forget to carry the feel and usability of your website over to smaller screen devices such as tablets or cellphones.

Excerpts from the HR Service Learning Project were extracted for this blog. The complete project was prepared by Matt James, Khadijah Diaz, Caley Trujillo, and Luisa Agathon

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