As public sector agencies are adjusting to a post-pandemic world and a flood of retirements from their older employees, the time for proactive outreach to younger candidates is now. Millennial and Gen Z workers have a different set of standards and principles for what they look for in a job, but there are many compelling reasons for them to consider a job in the public sector. By identifying and showcasing these benefits in your employer brand and recruiting process, you are more likely to attract millennial and Gen Z talent to your public sector jobs, backfilling recent vacancies and priming growth with the agency in the future.
Whether it's focusing on the altruistic nature of serving the public or honing in on the unique benefits inherent with working in government, here is a list of some of the things to highlight in your employer brand and job listings to attract top notch Millennial and Gen Z candidates.
- Interacting with and helping the community. As a government employee, you are making a difference in the communities you serve. Providing critical services and resources and improving community access to meet their needs can be an extremely rewarding position to be in – something you aren’t as likely to find in a private sector job. Another item to highlight is that public sector agencies are generally more representative of the communities they serve. This may be especially appealing to employees from BIPOC or other typically underrepresented communities.
- Work-life balance. Most public service jobs only ask that you work for eight hours, with an hour lunch break. It’s also important to note that this schedule will not limit an employee’s career growth as long as they have demonstrated the ability to grow. In the private sector, working more than 40 hours a week is often standard if you want to be seen as an outstanding employee or move up in the organization. Millennial and Gen Z candidates are more likely to consider work-life balance when searching for career opportunities, so this is a great aspect to highlight that would make your agency an employer of choice.
- Benefits and transparent pay grades. Although baseline pay in the public sector tends to be lower than the private sector, the public sector outperforms the private sector when it comes to health benefits. Another public sector salary benefit is the existence of pay grades, which take the guesswork out of what an employee can be expected to make in a given role, and what they will need to do or accomplish to move to a higher pay grade. The private sector tends to be less equitable when it comes to this, and it’s not uncommon for two employees to have differing rates of pay despite the same job title or experience. Additionally, if you know your agency offers a pension program, build upon that as another key benefit job seekers won’t see in the private sector.
- Career stability. Another item of interest to build into your employer brand is the concept of career stability. The private sector can be cutthroat when it comes to forced competition with other employees, and not hitting financial goals can mean layoffs or terminations. Think about how that contrasts with the public sector. Public sector agencies must serve community members even in times of nationwide financial crises, meaning layoffs and furloughs are less likely to happen. This can be a huge pull for jobseekers who would prefer not to feel as though they are constantly looking over their shoulder.
- Resume and connection boost. This is an angle to take if you’re thinking of specifically recruiting those who have never worked in the public sector before, like many Millennial and Gen Z employees. Public Sector employees are likely to gain insights or unique skillsets that could be beneficial to a future role in another government agency or even a return to the private sector. This is also an opportunity for your agency to pique the interest of those who have considered going into politics; getting firsthand experience working in a government agency will broaden their access to political leaders and stakeholders, and give them insight into how the political process works.
- Student loan repayment programs. This last reason is a huge benefit to those candidates fresh out of school or those looking to offset their student loan debt. Via the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, employees can have federal student loans forgiven after roughly ten years of payments (source: Student Loan Hero). The PSLF program is untaxed and has no cap, meaning it could make a huge difference for prospective employees who are looking for nontraditional benefits that they wouldn’t find in the private sector.