Importance of Recruitment Marketing for State & Local Government

by Mike Tannian on June 05, 2024

Today’s competitive job market requires government HR to adopt a marketing mindset. Learn how recruitment marketing can help you attract and recruit top talent.

Article Highlights:

In today’s public sector job market, candidates wield the power. They can choose between multiple job offers, usually ones with higher compensation and better benefits. So how can your agency compete for top talent?

You have to adopt a marketing mindset. For public sector HR, it starts with recruitment marketing, where you leverage marketing strategies to attract, engage, recruit, and retain talent.

Why is Recruitment Marketing Important?

Most local and state governments post a job opening and hope that people apply. The philosophy is “build it and they will come.” This is a passive approach to recruiting, and unfortunately, there is too much demand for top talent and too little supply for this to work effectively.

In contrast, recruitment marketing takes a more proactive approach to sourcing and hiring. It uses tried-and-true marketing strategies to attract and engage job seekers, such as improving your employer brand or launching a candidate generation campaign.

With recruitment marketing strategies you can reach more qualified applicants and fill positions faster. This improves the hiring process for candidates, boosts your reputation in the applicant market, and increases retention for current employees. How? The faster you fill openings, the less time your employees have to compensate for staffing shortages. By reducing this strain and mitigating burnout, you can keep employees longer. 

At the end of the day, recruitment marketing saves time and resources – two things in short supply in public sector HR these days.

Recruitment Marketing Ideas: How to Get Started

Define Your Audience

When defining your audience, it’s important to think beyond skills. You can train someone how to use technology or complete a 10-step process, but you can’t teach someone how to be personable, flexible, considerate, collaborative, etc. So consider hiring people who would be a good fit for your agency’s culture.

This means you need to know: What is your agency’s culture? Is it in state or local government? If it’s fast-paced and innovative, you may want candidates who are flexible, who don’t care if their job looks a little different every day. If it’s slow-paced and consistent, you may target applicants who thrive in a structured environment. It may be difficult to find someone with the perfect combination of soft skills and technical skills, so you’ll need to decide which one matters more.

Define Your Employer Value Proposition

An Employer Value Proposition (EVP) is the unique set of benefits and values an employer offers to attract and retain employees. Your EVP highlights why your agency is a desirable place to work and differentiates you from other employers. It encompasses: 

  • Agency culture 
  • Work environment
  • Career development opportunities 
  • Job stability and security
  • Compensation 
  • Benefits
  • Paid time off
  • Pensions
  • Community impact

Your agency can’t be the best at everything, but you may be the best at one or two things. Identify what your differentiators are and use them to set yourself apart from other job opportunities. Every job seeker wants to know, “what’s in it for me (WIIFM)?” Make sure you have a compelling answer to that question.

Brainstorm & Evaluate Content Ideas

Now that you understand your audience and how to set yourself apart in a competitive labor market, you need to find ways to get their attention. This starts by brainstorming content ideas.

Invite a variety of people to a brainstorming session: recent new hires, hiring managers, supervisors, passionate employees, etc. To get the best ideas, create an environment where people can contribute without feeling judged or fear of being perceived as stupid. Then, give everyone sticky notes and start throwing ideas on the wall (or white board).

Once the brainstorm is over, it’s time to assess feasibility. Start by asking:

  • How much time and resources will this take to create?
  • What is the estimated return on investment (ROI) of each idea (impact vs cost)?
  • What channels can we use to share this content?

As you answer these questions, you can start organizing sticky notes into one of four buckets:

  1. High ROI, Low Effort
  2. High ROI, High Effort
  3. Low ROI, Low Effort
  4. Low ROI, High Effort

You’ll want to prioritize the ideas in the “High ROI, Low Effort” category and work down the list from there. Discard any ideas in the “Low ROI, High Effort” bucket since those will not be worth your time.

Create a Plan

Now that you have high-impact, low-cost ideas for reaching qualified candidates, you need a plan. Start with the end goal in mind and consider every step to get there. Consider using a free tool like Trello, or even an Excel spreadsheet, to manage and track your project. Keep reading for examples of recruitment marketing content and campaigns.

Recruitment Marketing Examples

Before getting started, it may be helpful to see some real-world examples of recruitment marketing in action.


On the Calendly careers page, job seekers can navigate multiple pages to get the answers they’re looking for. The How We Hire page outlines their hiring process transparently, so applicants know what to expect at every stage. It also creates a standard process that the HR team is held accountable to. 

On the Benefits & Perks page, Calendly highlights all the benefits of working with them. You may not be able to compete with these perks as a state or local agency. But the point is to highlight the benefits of working with your organization, whatever they may be.

Frederick County Government

Frederick County Government is another example of a good careers page, this time in the public sector. You can tell they spent time creating their tagline, “Rich History, Bright Future,” which makes you want to learn their history and be a part of their future. They also have a simple but creative video called “What You Do, We Do,” which is meant to attract private sector candidates with relevant skills and experience. 

Frederick County’s career page wisely highlights upcoming events, so job seekers can connect in person if they so desire. It also includes staff testimonials, which are compelling and powerful for applicants looking for the right culture fit. As important as self-promotional content is, it’s always helpful to have current employees confirm (in their own words) that your agency is as good as you say it is.

Lake Worth Police Department

Lake Worth PD is another public safety agency worth looking into, specifically their LinkedIn page. What do they do well? For starters, they post regularly. Some posts spotlight current employees, highlighting the employee’s positive impact, benefits of working for Lake Worth, and why he/she likes working there. Not only does this boost morale for the featured employee, it creates a compelling case for prospective candidates. 

Other LinkedIn posts include positive feedback from the community, which is particularly important if you’re recruiting first responders. Lake Worth PD gathers feedback they received after citizen-police interactions and posts it on social media regularly. This boosts morale, shows first responders that their work will be appreciated, and demonstrates to the community that Lake Worth PD values their feedback.

Other Recruitment Marketing Ideas

Post flyers with QR codes: QR codes are commonplace now and an easy way to drive prospective candidates to department-specific landing or career pages. Creating one is as simple as finding a QR code generator online, inputting your URL (where you want to send people), and downloading the QR code.

Employee testimonials: These can be written out or recorded on a smartphone. It doesn’t require high-production value; authenticity is more important. You can collect testimonials by sending an employee survey, creating a poll via Google Forms, or simply asking employees who are passionate about their work.

Landing pages: Create a landing page where candidates can learn why your agency is a great place to work. Tools like Attract let you create branded landing pages tailored for specific departments, events, and more – without requiring IT support.

Branded swag: Give out swag at in-person events like job fairs, conferences, and community events to keep your brand top of mind and help you stand out. Invest in swag items that can be portable and reused like water bottles, notebooks, pens, etc.

Manage candidate relationships: There are plenty of candidate relationship management (CRM) tools that can help you gather, manage, and track candidate information, as well as automate email sends to current and past candidates.

Email: Whether you send emails manually or have a CRM that does it for you, here are some best practices:

  • Send emails at different times of day
  • Send emails on different days of the week
  • Keep emails short and to the point
  • Always include a Call to Action (CTA)
  • Make your subject lines engaging
  • Consider using emojis in subject lines
  • Bold important details and use bullet points
  • Communicate clearly how it benefits them (WIIFM?)

Candidate experience audit: By improving the candidate experience, you can improve your reputation in the applicant market. Start by gathering key data points like application abandonment rate, time-to-hire, candidate churn, and communication frequency. Consider surveying applicants to get additional insights on the strengths and weaknesses of your hiring process. Then prioritize improvements, develop a plan, and implement change.

Employer brand campaign: Many of the ideas and examples above can be combined into a campaign to promote your employer brand. To get started, develop content around your key differentiators: 

  • Promotional messaging 
  • Infographics that visualize key info or data 
  • Images and photos depicting a healthy work culture 
  • Video testimonials 
  • And more

Once your content is created, you can deliver it to candidates through some combination of email, social media, QR codes, landing pages, or other methods that have been effective for your agency.

Recruitment Marketing Resources

Interested in recruitment marketing resources beyond this article? You’re in luck. NEOGOV has many resources to help you adopt a marketing mindset and recruit top talent, including the course that inspired this article: Recruitment Marketing 101

In addition to the resources above, NEOGOV provides solutions to the most common recruitment challenges facing state and local government. We offer a CRM called Attract and an applicant tracking system called Insight. With these tools, you can reach more qualified candidates faster than the competition. Schedule a no-obligation appointment now to learn how NEOGOV can revolutionize your recruiting efforts.

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.

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