How to Turn Tech Layoffs into Public Sector Recruitment Gains

by Alexandrea Davis on December 14, 2022

Find out how to recruit tech talent to your agency and fill a rising influx of government job openings by revamping your approach to recruitment.

Article Highlights

In recent months, announcements about masses of tech layoffs in 2022 have dominated news reports. From big corporations like Amazon and Meta to innovative startups like Coinbase and goPuff, technology companies are cutting tens of thousands of employees loose as corporations scamper to mitigate revenue losses and appease stockholders. 

Tech Layoff Campaign - Charts (1)

Chart sourced from GovTech.

But the challenges government agencies face are quite the opposite. Rather than having more employees than it can sustain, the public sector can’t find enough candidates to fill their increasing number of open roles. According to NEOGOV’s recent report, The Quiet Crisis in the Public Sector, from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022, government job openings increased by 45% while the number of applications per open job decreased by 56%.

The layoffs in tech are only expected to continue through 2023, and with these predictions comes a significant opportunity to boost public sector recruitment. Based on data collected by TechCrunch, it’s clear that these newly-available candidates are more than just technically-skilled workers. Tech companies are laying off a variety of staff who can provide immense value to government work by bringing relevant skills in areas like: 

  • Digital and social media
  • Data analysis 
  • Software systems and programming
  • Cybersecurity and IT
  • Project management
  • Problem-solving
Tech Layoff Campaign - Charts copy

Chart sourced from TechCrunch.

The public sector now has thousands more potential applicants. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to flock to your organization simply because you have unfilled roles. Your usual recruitment strategies, outreach, and messaging may not be the most effective for connecting with tech job seekers. That’s why, in order to attract tech workers to your agency, you first need to understand how to recruit tech talent

What Tech Candidates Want from Employers

The first step in attracting tech workers to your government agency is understanding what they’re looking for in an employer. Competition is steep, so you need to put your best foot forward.

Tech workers want to know that you’ll support their wants and needs, and that your agency’s priorities align with theirs – both personally and professionally. A 2022 study by Lever gave insights to employees’ primary expectations, which are relevant to both public and private sector organizations. As long as you speak to job seekers’ core priorities, they’ll be hard-pressed to ignore you.

Tech Layoff Campaign - Charts copy 2

Chart sourced from Lever.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the top priorities of tech workers. 

Work-life balance

Flexibility is a deciding factor for tech talent. Tech workers are accustomed to work-life balance and expect it in their careers moving forward. Especially for younger generations, this allows more time for self-care, family time, and personal leisure.

Tech workers want a healthy amount of paid-time off, flexible work hours, and hybrid or remote working options. They want to be treated like humans with lives outside of work. Creating space for employees to find balance also supports improved productivity at work and greater retention, both highly important to public sector agencies. 

Professional development

Career development opportunities are another key priority among tech workers. Continued training and professional development opportunities from employers shows tech talent that you’ll help them build their skills, support their growth trajectory, and equip them with tools for a successful career. 

Long-term career growth

Along with professional development, tech candidates want to know that there’s a path towards long-term career growth within your organization. Tech workers are quick-witted and eager to advance their careers, so they don’t want to feel stagnant or trapped in a role without growth potential. If you can’t show them how their position at your agency can evolve in the long-term, they’ll likely lose interest.

Comprehensive benefits package

Well-rounded benefits are often a strong selling point for the public sector. Tech talent, while itching to advance, also want assurance of stability and support from their employers. In the United States, health insurance, retirement contributions, a health savings account, and other valuable benefits are only accessible through employers. 

What’s more, the tech layoffs in 2022 revealed another area of stability in government work which tech companies lack: job security. A recent survey by LinkedIn found that 56% of workers find job stability more important than flexibility amid today's uncertain economy. This important revelation shows how the job-seeker landscape is shifting in 2023 and creating better opportunities for public sector recruitment.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

In recent years, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has become a core value among tech job seekers and a central item of conversation with potential employers. They want to see active efforts to improve diversity and inclusion at your agency, from hiring practices to educational opportunities and equitable representation. While tech workers recognize that progress is gradual, if you want to attract them to your government organization, this cannot be ignored.

Now you understand what tech candidates are searching for, but there’s more to knowing how to recruit tech talent. Next, let’s discuss what public sector recruitment strategies your agency can use to successfully market to, reach, and close tech candidates.

How to Market Your Brand to Tech Job Seekers 

Recruitment isn’t just about vetting qualified candidates to see if they’re a good fit for your agency – it’s also about candidates vetting your organization to see if you’re a good fit for them

How can public sector agencies make the strongest case to tech job seekers? Here are some helpful strategies.

Brand presence

Your branding is a job candidate's first impression of your organization. That means you need to be intentional about your online brand presence to ensure you’re portraying the right image of your agency. 

There’s a variety of online media available to promote your agency. But since the public sector has limited time and resources, consider focusing your tech talent recruitment efforts on these key platforms: 

  • Your website: This is where candidates can learn about your mission and values, important initiatives, and workforce offerings to determine whether your priorities align with theirs. Make sure your website properly reflects your brand, is user-friendly, and uses an inviting digital tone so visitors keep exploring – and hopefully find themselves perusing your job openings.

    For organizations with limited functionalities, building a strong brand presence isn’t always easy, but there are tools that can help. NEOGOV’s candidate relationship manager (CRM), Attract, enables government agencies to create custom, branded landing pages where candidates can learn more about your job openings and apply. This government recruitment software includes easy-to-use tools for creating forms and calls-to-action on each page so you can better market your brand to job seekers.

  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the main social platform dedicated to professionals and the best for recruitment. That’s because it’s not just about recruiting – it’s also about building a network of connections. You can interact with top talent, showcase your agency’s impact, and share what it’s like to work at your organization. These activities grow awareness around your agency and benefit your reputation. And as your network expands, so will your reach, your brand stewards, and your attractiveness to tech workers.

  • Glassdoor: Like LinkedIn, Glassdoor can help build your brand reputation among tech talent. This platform allows you to share information about your mission, benefits, open jobs, and salary ranges. Glassdoor also gives your employees the opportunity to share the pros and cons of working for your agency, which is something tech workers will want to know.

    Ensure your government organization has a complete Glassdoor profile and encourage employees to add reviews. Check these reviews regularly and respond to negative comments with things you’re doing to improve. This way, potential tech candidates know you listen to your employees and want to create a great work environment.

Strategic messaging

Your government agency has a lot to offer, but it’s easy to get lost in the mix. Don’t make candidates work to find the key benefits of your organization (because they probably won’t try hard before giving up and moving on). Put your strongest selling points front and center on your website, social media pages, job postings, and other public-facing platforms. Highlight how your offerings align with tech workers’ priorities, and emphasize the total compensation of all these benefits combined – not just the position salary.

And don’t forget to remind tech talent of the uniquely ingrained nature of public service: giving back to communities. Particularly for Millennials and Gen Z, making a difference in others’ lives brings significant value to their work. By joining your agency, they’ll have the opportunity to influence public policy, strengthen community wellbeing, and contribute to other work that gives them a greater sense of purpose. 

Work culture

Culture is a central component of the work environment you foster for your employees. For some, this can make or break your organization as a prospective employer. That’s why it’s important to communicate with the public about the work culture you’re building internally

Share employee testimonials on your Careers page and social media accounts to showcase your organizational culture. For tech workers, hearing directly from your employees helps illustrate openness and credibility for your agency. Are you just creating a facade or do your employees back you up? Employee testimonials base your claims in reality.

As a key priority among tech talent, elevate your commitment to DEI by openly sharing about your diversity initiatives, priorities, and goals. And don’t underestimate small details. Something like visual representation of diverse people in your social media images, employee testimonials, and more may seem simple, but it can speak volumes to tech candidates. 

How to Ensure You Reach Tech Job Seekers

If you want fresh talent, you need fresh approaches to government recruitment – which means you need to rethink your recruitment strategies. This requires better systems, elevated creativity, and a little optimization. 

Update your processes

We’re two decades into the 21st century, so if you’re still using manual, paper processes, it's going to be hard to attract tech talent. Tech workers are innovative and forward-thinking, and they’re not interested in traveling back in time. To reach them, you need to update your processes. 

Leveraging sites like LinkedIn is a good start. However, government recruitment software can be an essential tool to position your government agency more competitively in the market. For example, NEOGOV’s applicant tracking solution, Insight, and Attract CRM provide a number of key features that make it easier for you to reach tech talent:

  • Virtual Recruiter to automatically source qualified candidates who meet your job criteria or applied for similar roles on lead channels – so you find more candidates faster. 
  • Push job postings to LinkedIn and Indeed, two leading job boards for tech job seekers, to reach more qualified tech candidates.
  • Automated communication tools to keep them informed and engaged through the application process.

Get into the community

Effective recruitment is all about building relationships, so you shouldn’t ignore the benefits of boots-on-the-ground recruiting efforts. See if your nearby colleges and universities are hosting career fairs for students. This could present an opportunity to recruit soon-to-be tech graduates, or even offer paid internships for continuing students to make connections ahead of future hiring initiatives. 

Find creative ways to get out into your community and drive awareness of your organization. Hang job posters in local cafes, visit coworking spaces, set up information booths outside your government building – meet people where they are in your community.

Optimize your content

Part of knowing your audience of tech job seekers includes optimizing your recruitment content to speak their language. Not only does this mean speaking to their wants and needs – it also means you should write job descriptions that match their qualifications and expectations. Here are some best practices to follow: 

  • Use keywords that tech candidates search for to increase the likelihood that they’ll find your postings in their job searches.
  • Highlight skills specific to tech talent so they’ll see your requested skills and qualifications align with theirs.
  • Use job titles similar to those found in tech (even if it’s just a secondary title added in parentheses). 

You shouldn’t expect tech talent to adjust their search terms for the public sector, otherwise you’ll be left empty-handed. It’s up to you to show them how well their abilities match your agency’s needs so they’ll apply to your roles.

How to Close the Deal with Tech Candidates

Once you identify a tech candidate who’s a great fit for your open role, you ultimately want them to accept your job offer before they decide to move forward with a different one. The following best practices can help your agency change that.

Provide a great candidate experience 

Ensuring a positive candidate experience throughout the application, interviewing, and hiring process is a must. This is a basic sign of respect for candidates and their time, and it reflects on both your treatment of people as an employer and your reputation

For instance, if you take too long to respond to a candidate after an interview (or ghost them completely), they’ll likely accept another offer – and they’ll hold a negative view of your organization and probably won’t apply again in the future.

To help your agency, review this list of candidate experience do’s and don’ts

  • DO: Regularly communicate with candidates to keep them updated about their progress.
  • DON’T: Make applicants submit their resume and also manually enter their job history.
  • DO: Tell candidates when they can expect to hear back from you – and stick to it.
  • DON’T: Hold more than 5 interviews before extending an offer.
  • DO: Personalize your candidate outreach to make them feel like valued individuals, not random strangers (government recruitment software like Attract can help with this).

And remember: the candidate experience doesn’t stop after the hiring process. Make sure your new employees feel supported and prepared to succeed with a great onboarding experience, too. 

Reduce your time-to-hire

Government agencies often lose out on top talent because of their extremely long time-to-hire. After being laid off unexpectedly, tech candidates aren’t willing to wait around for their next opportunity, so you need to be ready to convert them from applicants to new hires efficiently.

There are many simple adjustments you can make to speed up your hiring process. Most companies ramp up their hiring in January, so it’s important to get ahead of the game by beginning your recruitment efforts in December

In addition, a consistently effective solution to reducing time-to-hire in the public sector is the use of automation tools to streamline the entire process. NEOGOV’s Recruit module includes solutions that support this with features for:

  • Interview self-scheduling that allows candidates to set up interviews based on their availability and that of hiring managers, without the back-and-forth.
  • An online portal where candidates can easily complete and submit required documentation from anywhere, eliminating the need for them to print paperwork and go to the office in person.
  • Automated email updates to keep candidates informed throughout the hiring process so they don’t become frustrated from lack of communication.

Reiterate the value to candidates

In the midst of applying, interviewing, and receiving an offer for a job, it’s easy for candidates to forget the full value of what your agency has to offer. When you finally reach the end of your hiring process, tech job seekers may be considering multiple job offers. Therefore, it’s vital that you reiterate what’s in it for them if they choose to accept your job offer

In your interviews, make sure tech workers know how your agency supports their priorities. Show them the path to advancement in your agency so they know how they can grow and evolve in their careers. Furthermore, when you extend an offer, send your tech candidate an electronic offer letter that shows the total compensation they’ll receive by working for your agency – including not just their salary, but also the dollar-add of your benefits, paid training, and any other stipends you provide. 

You should also explicitly remind them about all of the great benefits that come with government work: 

  • Complete benefits package
  • Job stability
  • Professional development
  • Ability to impact public policy and their local community

Providing clarity about what tech candidates can expect by working at your organization will help them avoid feelings of regret or uncertainty in their new position. Show the value they’ll gain to ensure both your agency and your new tech hire feel confident in your final decision.

Improve Your Public Sector Recruitment with NEOGOV

With the continuing tech layoffs, 2022 has shown that government agencies aren’t always the underdog in a competitive job market. The perks of public sector work are widespread and extremely valuable to job seekers in all areas – your organization just needs to know what recruiting strategies are most effective to progress your goals. 

NEOGOV’s Recruit module, a recruitment management system containing Insight, Attract, and GovernmentJobs.com, is a game changer for public sector recruitment. It can help you reach more candidates, reduce your time-to-hire, and provide positive candidate experiences that are essential to attracting tech talent to your organization. And as the layoffs in tech continue, there’s never been a better time to invest in the future of your agency’s recruitment success. 

So, if you’re ready to leverage automation tools and improve your government recruitment, schedule a conversation with our team to see how NEOGOV’s solutions for the public sector can help.

Alexandrea Davis

Alexandrea Davis is a Content Marketing Specialist at NEOGOV, supporting content strategy and development. With a love for storytelling and commitment to making an impact, she aims to create meaningful content that builds trust and erodes challenges for public service professionals.

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