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The government is looking to hire new talent, both to replace departing retirees as well as to fill newly created roles focused on emerging mission requirements. It’s an exciting time for the federal government: the Wall Street Journal recently reported on Labor Department statistics that show government hiring is outpacing the manufacturing and construction sectors – combined. This growth follows five straight years of shrinking in the government workforce.

Unfortunately, the federal government hiring process is “deeply broken,” according to Max Stier, chief executive of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. Critics say that government hiring is confusing, opaque and lengthy, deterring even those who want to devote their lives to public service.

Competing with the Private Sector

Private sector organizations are light years ahead of federal agencies when it comes to utilizing integrated talent management solutions to streamline their recruiting, hiring and onboarding of top talent. As competition for qualified candidates is fierce, the government risks coming up short unless drastic changes are made. Even highly motivated people with a true commitment to government service are being turned off by a lengthy and disorganized recruiting and hiring process.

It’s evident that government agencies are restricted by outdated processes and dated, legacy applicant tracking systems. To help address this, new bills such as the Competitive Service Act have been introduced in Congress to help streamline a broken and antiquated hiring process by cutting duplicative services and allowing agencies to share information about potential job candidates. But much work remains to be done.

A Collaborative Culture

When it comes to changing the recruiting and hiring culture, a key objective for federal agencies should be to seamlessly hire, onboard, and align new talent to organizational goals to quickly get them productive and contributing to the agency’s mission. To accomplish this, human capital management departments must unify processes and governance, particularly as they prepare to evaluate and roll out unified talent management solutions. These best practices are critical and can be incorporated today, resulting in a more positive and efficient recruiting and hiring process while breaking down existing silos that get in the way of an efficient hiring and onboarding process.

More than anything, collaboration is the key. Collaborating with recruiters, employees and candidates to share jobs and identify internal and external candidates will help attract the very best talent. Next, interviewing and assessing candidates is a team effort that requires input from several internal groups with collaboration around internal team reviews, discussions and ratings of candidates – a process that should be clearly defined and efficiently executed. Collaboration also extends to the candidates, offering them a transparent view into the hiring process and clear information on where they are and next steps.

There is no limit to the opportunities for an exciting career in government service. But even federal agencies never get a second chance to make a first impression. The hiring process should build excitement, commitment and passion of the candidates – not turn them off to explore jobs elsewhere.