The Widening Gap Between Job Openings and Applications
Public sector employees provide the services we rely on every day, the services that make our society function. Transit, utilities, education, security, and the list goes on. Without enough government employees to fill these positions, we'll continue to see a negative impact on services to citizens.
The number of applicants per public sector job has been dropping consistently for several years, but the drop this past year was particularly dramatic. We wanted to know why, so we decided to speak with job seekers and HR directors to get answers.
The increase in public sector job postings from Q1 in 2021, to Q1 in 2022, has grown a staggering 45%! Yet the number of applications per open job during that same period decreased by 56%. On average, only 14.3 job seekers applied for every open job. This number dropped to as few as 7 applicants per job at some agencies.
Job applicants shared that benefits packages and the opportunity to do meaningful work far outweighed salary and stability when considering a career in the public sector. They resoundingly agreed the clarity of job requirements and transparency of salaries are clear advantages of the public sector hiring process. But they also expressed a clear desire for better communication and a more modernized and timely process.
“Getting transcripts, references and completing the application and questions was time-consuming and labor-intensive, as well as repetitive,” wrote one job applicant.
Insights from HR Professionals
A mass exodus of workers to the private sector, increased competition in the job market, and a rise in job openings due to the Silver Tsunami of recent retirees have combined to push public sector job openings to unprecedented levels.
Agencies are struggling to find qualified candidates to fill positions, leading to staff burnout, lower morale, higher overtime costs, and reduced service to citizens. The combination of these factors has hit law enforcement particularly hard.
80% of those surveyed responded that the number of job openings is higher than an average year. Half of those respondents said it was the highest number of job openings they’d seen in recent memory. Additionally, 79% of agencies cannot find enough qualified candidates. The result? 20% of public sector agencies have already reduced services to citizens in early 2022.
What Can We Do?
As we’ve seen, the public sector is facing significant difficulty attracting qualified applicants in today's job market, but there are ways to improve your hiring strategies.
- Create job postings highlighting the aspects that appeal to applicants most, like benefits, flexibility, skills development, and a sense of purpose
- Take advantage of new tools such as online job boards, digital ads, and social media
- Speed up the hiring and onboarding process with simplified, online applications, virtual interviews, and proactive communication
- Utilize technology to level the playing field with the private sector
"More engaging job postings, faster turnaround time in contacting candidates, investing more time in onboarding and the new hire journey..." -Maine respondent
To Learn More
Join me for a special webinar on August 5th at 10 am PDT for an in-depth look at our survey results and a panel discussion with customers who will share their evolving recruiting strategies for this new normal.
Register for the webinar here: The Quiet Crisis Webinar
Download the entire report here: The Quiet Crisis in the Public Sector