The 5 Candidates You Should Be Recruiting in 2022

by Mike Tannian on April 07, 2022

Find out which diverse candidate pools and recruiting strategies can help corporations and government agencies stay ahead in today's competitive job market.

Article Highlights

The job market has been highly competitive for the last couple years as The Great Resignation drives workers to leave their jobs for any number of reasons. It's created a hiring rush in both the public and private sectors, and organizations are learning how to recruit and retain top talent. Employers are looking for new perks and benefits to entice people to come work for them.

Companies are creating recruitment strategies for Millennials and Generation Z. They're inviting past employees to return to the fold, and they're looking at past applicants that made it deep into the hiring funnel. And they're creating entire strategies to reach more BIPOC candidates, women, and armed forces veterans.

In this article, we'll share tips for recruiting these diverse candidates. We’ll also look into other recruitment ideas like employee referral programs; promoting job openings on social media; holding job fairs at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and community colleges; and the Veterans Recruitment Appointment program.

Let’s jump in.

How to Recruit Millennials and Gen Z

Organizations need to learn better recruitment strategies for Millennials and Gen Z because they will be your agency's future for the next 20 years.

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996 and Gen Z was born between 1997 and 2015, so they are the future workforce. But they have new ways of thinking and they’re bringing ideas to the table that previous generations haven't. Millennial and Gen Z candidates are aware of social issues, and they're adaptable and savvy with digital technology.

And in today's highly competitive job market, organizations of every size and type are going to scramble to find top talent.

Your organization may need to rethink the way you view your work if you want to attract these two generations. We’ve compiled a list of tips for recruiting Millennials and Gen Z to help you get started: 

  • Embrace technology. Gen Y and Z are digitally savvy both online and with their mobile devices. Their work should take advantage of that. Also, embrace remote work as a function of the workday – we've already seen it's not necessary to be at the office every day, so allow for remote work. This can also help you get top-notch candidates from other parts of the world.
  • Create an employee referral program. Your employees know prospective employees: their friends, former classmates, and former colleagues. They'll be happy to tell them about your positions, especially if you reward them. Ask them to share your job openings with their social media networks and personal networks. Also, consider forming a Millennial/Gen Z advisory committee to make further recommendations on increasing the number of applicants for each position.
  • Build an attractive brand. One way to attract Millennial and Gen Z talent is to develop key messaging that shares your values and mission. These two generations want their work to have a purpose and to benefit others, so create new messaging around those ideals. Encourage your executives to lead the way and share that same messaging in their public remarks and statements. And showcase your work culture on social media by sharing photos and videos of your organization working in the community; ask employees to re-share them.
  • Instill purpose. One of the great things about these generations is that they want to do meaningful work that makes a difference to people. They don't need to change the whole world – just their corner of it. Show them how they can have a positive impact in their job responsibilities and with the organization. Make sure to instill that same purpose into your work culture as a whole. Make it part of the messaging your executives share with your staff and the larger community.
  • Value work-life balance. Younger generations don't want to work 60 – 80 hours a week because they have lives outside of work. The oldest Millennials are in their early 40s, meaning they have families and homes. They want to enjoy them, not tie their lives up at the office. And younger Millennials and Generation Z have social lives. Many are making career choices that give them that balance. They're attracted by competitive benefits, including healthcare, retirement, and professional development. They appreciate work flexibility that favors results over effort. It's less about being in the office from 9 – 5 every day and more about getting the work done. Some organizations are seeing great success with an "unlimited time off" policy, or flexible work schedules where people work longer hours for four days to get the fifth day off. Employees are often more productive in these four days than they normally would be in five.
  • Set clear growth paths. Another benefit organizations can offer are opportunities for professional development. Gen Y and Z want to grow and thrive in their work, improve their skills, and expand their knowledge. Work to understand their career goals, and show them the path to achieving them.

You can learn more about best practices for recruiting Millennials and Gen Z on our website.

Hire More Diverse Candidates

Another challenge for organizations, whether it's the private or public sector, is recruiting diverse candidates. Every organization should have a workforce that matches the community they serve. If your customer base or agency population is 18% Black, then ideally, 18% of your workforce will be Black as well.

More corporations and government agencies understand they need a diverse workforce and leadership. Organizations that want to see greater success need to consider their diversity recruiting strategies in order to find candidates that will better reflect the populations and communities they serve.

There are a few reasons why diverse candidates are not applying to your organization:

  • Your brand doesn't resonate with diverse recruits. Your organization may not have a reputation for doing good for the community or having an inclusive workforce. It will take some active recruiting to begin to change that image people have.
  • There is a notable absence of a diverse workforce. Either you actually have a lack of women, people of color, and other underemployed populations in your organization, or it just looks that way on your organization's LinkedIn page and website.
  • You have restrictive job descriptions that restrict candidates who don't have the "right" kind of experience or don't have a complete degree. Job descriptions are often narrowly-worded or contain unrealistic prerequisites, like requiring a graduate degree for a job that doesn't really need one. You could be overlooking a lot of otherwise-qualified candidates, like those who completed three-and-a-half years of college instead of four, or who worked in the field for 20 years but don't have a related degree.
  • There's no employee referral program at your organization. As we said earlier, your employees know potential employees. You can encourage more diverse applications by creating an employee referral program that rewards the employees who make a referral. The referral program can also build your brand because it demonstrates your commitment to diversity.
  • You're only allowing limited sourcing of candidates. Diverse candidates aren't applying to your organization because you're only hiring people in your physical location. But thanks to broadband and video technology, you can have employees from any part of the country, especially if you're in a small town or rural location. You can get top-notch talent from big cities and ramp up your productivity.
  • You have a poor candidate screening process. Diverse candidates worry they won't get a fair chance to prove themselves in the interview process. You can help with this by using blind résumés that hide personally identifiable information (PII), such as name, address, colleges, or faith-based and political organizations.

You can also increase your diverse candidate pool by writing a thoughtful and inspiring diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) statement for your organization. It needs to go beyond the boilerplate legalese, like "equal opportunity employer," because those ring hollow. Your DEI statement should reflect your culture, or at least the culture you're working to create.

Create a statement that shows why your organization values and prioritizes diversity. Develop unique messaging that demonstrates your sincere commitment to welcoming candidates from all racial, community, and identity groups.

Visit our website to learn more about how to improve your diversity recruiting strategies.

Look at Past Applicants

Another candidate pool you should be recruiting in 2022 are past applicants who made it well into your hiring funnel, even getting into the interview process. These are people you thought were qualified enough to speak with face-to-face, but maybe they just weren't quite right for the opening you had.

Maybe they were overqualified or under-qualified at the time, but they now fit a new position or have the experience needed for the old position. Or perhaps they already have a new job, but they know someone who would make an ideal new candidate for your particular opening.

Recruiting from your past applicants can save you a lot of time. They're already familiar with the organization and have educated themselves on the benefits of joining you. Depending on how far they got into the interview process, you may have already checked their qualifications, interviewed them, and even checked their references. If you're fortunate enough to communicate with your second choice in hiring, it could just be a question of offering them a job.

Even if they're not actively job-hunting, you may have an opportunity or work setting that they want to pursue. If you offer remote work capabilities or have a job that more closely aligns with their career and life goals, they could be persuaded to accept your offer.

Of course, the candidate may have been upset that they didn't receive a job offer, especially if your organization didn't respond to them about the offer. If you’ve treated job applicants poorly in the past, that may have severely damaged your organization's reputation and you'll need to repair the relationship. 

You can improve your organization's brand in the future by contacting applicants who were rejected from the hiring process, especially those who got further along the process. Write a more personal rejection letter for those who made the shortlist. If you're going to look at your past applicant pool, you don't want them to have a sour taste when you contact them again later on.

Visit our website to learn more about recruiting and hiring past applicants.

Recruit Boomerang Employees

Past employees, also called boomerang employees, are those who leave an organization and then return. More workers, especially Millennials, are open to returning to their old employers because they’re used to changing jobs every two or three years. 

Boomerang employees have a lot to offer their old employers. After all, your organization hired them because you thought they were qualified in the first place. If you can recruit them back to your agency, they will bring many benefits to your workplace:

  • They expand your network. If you stay in touch with your old employees, you also have access to their new employers and can possibly form a working relationship with them. The same is true when your employees return: their former employers may want a relationship with your organization.
  • They know the organization. Boomerang employees understand the organization, its mission, culture, systems, and processes. Even if they've been gone for a few years, they’re already ahead of the new employees who are starting from square one.
  • They bring back institutional knowledge. They know the organization's history, and "the way we used to do things." However, they're bringing in new experiences and may have new ideas to improve those old systems. As Winston Churchill said, "The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see."
  • They have new skills and knowledge. An employee that moved on to a new position from your organization did so because they acquired the skills and knowledge to take on that new role. If they want to return to your agency, let them in, because they have even more skills and knowledge that can benefit your organization.

If you want to learn more about recruiting and retaining top talent, as well as bringing back your boomerang employees, you can visit our website for more information.

Start Recruiting Veterans

One commitment that organizations should make, especially government agencies, is veterans' staffing and recruiting. Many veterans of the U.S. armed forces, including retired career officers, can have a major impact on a government agency. Retired officers are usually only in their 40s when they retire. They're not ready to stop working – they're most likely still looking for something to do.

Veterans are especially useful in government agencies that handle preparedness and emergency response, either as a full agency mission or as part of their regular function (such as Homeland Security or a public health department).

One advantage that government agencies have in a competitive job market is that they can automatically place veterans through the Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA), also called the Veterans Recruitment Authority. This authority allows a government agency to appoint an eligible veteran without going through the traditional hiring process.

The agency can appoint a veteran if they:

  • Served during a war or received a campaign badge for service; OR
  • are a disabled veteran; OR
  • Received an Armed Forces Services Medal for participation in a military operation; OR
  • Were discharged within the last three years; AND
  • Separated under honorable conditions.

This is also where your team can help. Ask your employees, especially those who were in the military, if they have any friends or family who have previously served and are now looking for work.

There are several benefits of hiring veterans to work for your organization:

  • They have a disciplined work ethic. They were taught to obey orders and do what was required of them. You can assign a task to a veteran employee and they'll do it to the best of their ability.
  • They respect authority. Veteran employees have great respect for your managers and executive leadership. They're more likely to buy into your agency's vision and culture without question or resistance.
  • It provides them with a purpose. Many veterans need help transitioning back to civilian life. For many who are returning from the war zone or even career officers who have only known military life for the last 20 years, they need help adjusting to the unfamiliarity of civilian life. Having a regular job that requires following a regimented schedule can help them adjust to the civilian way of doing things.
  • Working for a government agency helps them continue to serve their country. Just like Millennials and Generation Z want work that gives them a purpose, many veterans still want to serve their country. Working for a government agency, especially at the federal or state level, can provide that sense of purpose for veterans. They're helping their community and their country – and in a way, at the federal level, they haven't changed employers. It's still the U.S. government.

You can learn more about hiring veterans on our website.

How Applicant Tracking Software Can Help

In today’s highly competitive job market, recruiting diverse candidates can be difficult. But applicant tracking software can help put your organization’s diversity recruiting strategies into motion.

For example, applicant tracking software can help you sort through past applicants. You won't need to deal with printed résumés and old emails or keep spreadsheets of applicants. This software will help you find the skills and traits you need in a new employee and create a list of possible candidates to follow up with.

Applicant tracking software also helps you keep track of past employees, including providing you with an offboarding checklist, so you can turn them into boomerang employees. 

And while it may not be able to help you track diverse candidates or veterans – because it won't track Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) information – you can at least search for applicants who list their military experience on their résumé.

Final Thoughts

Using competitive recruiting tactics like those discussed in this article is essential in understanding how to recruit and retain top talent for your organization. And leveraging digital technology can help you improve your diversity recruiting efforts. With applicant tracking software, you can more easily and efficiently find the right candidates.

Insight is NEOGOV's applicant tracking solution designed specifically for the public sector. It speeds up and automates the recruiting and hiring process, decreases the time-to-hire, and automates all compliance and fairness functions.

Insight pre-screens candidates as they apply, and then auto-scores them to highlight the best candidates. It uses weighted scores and rankings based on your screening protocols, tests, and interviews, which helps you find the candidates that will best fit your organizational culture.

Insight also offers data visualization and analysis so you can see if there are any problems with your recruiting. The advanced ad-hoc reporting and adverse impact statistics help you make a better-informed hiring decision.

To learn more about NEOGOV's Insight and how it can help you in today's competitive job market, visit our website to book a free demo.

How to Solve Government Recruiting Needs

Mike Tannian

Mike Tannian is the Director of Content Marketing at NEOGOV. With a talented team of writers by his side, he aims to produce content that delivers real value to public sector HR professionals at every stage in the buying journey.