Four Principles to Help Federal Agencies Build Effective Digital Recruitment Strategies

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  • Digital


With over two million federal employees (per OPM), many federal recruitment teams are continually challenged to fulfill the hiring needs of their agencies efficiently and effectively. Existing challenges, such as slow and complicated recruitment processes, combined with shifts in workplace culture, environment, and expectations during COVID-19 have dramatically altered what candidates expect from employers and the recruitment process. Jobseekers want purpose-driven, personalized experiences that make it as easy as possible for them to move through the recruitment process.

The big question on most federal recruiters’ minds is — how can they overcome this ever-growing list of challenges with limited recruitment budgets and resources?

The answer is — federal recruiters must adopt a digital recruitment strategy that blends human-centered design with automation and analytics capabilities.

This sounds straightforward, but it’s often easier said than done.

Based on our own experiences, GovCIO has outlined four principles that every federal digital recruitment strategy should incorporate to optimize recruiting efforts.

Digital recruiting tips

1. Understand Your Audience

Create candidate personas and journey maps segmented by job function, life stage, or other classifications to provide tailored candidate experiences. Make sure to evaluate key demographics, psychographics, and challenges, as well as preferred digital engagement channels and content types. This will enable you to:

  • Create hyper-targeted advertising campaigns for placement where your audience spends their time.
  • Customize job descriptions.
  • Identify new outlets and online communities for advertising.
  • Creates opportunities to engage the candidate how and where they’re most comfortable.

2. Improve The Experience

Improve Application Accessibility and Ease of Use- Don’t make applying for jobs a hassle for your applicants. Your application and application process should be as straightforward, quick, and painless as possible. And it should be able to be completed on the go (e.g., mobile-friendly). Otherwise, you’ll likely lose a lot of qualified candidates.

  • Shorten the initial application to only include requirements that are absolutely necessary.
  • Optimize the mobile experience by creating a mobile-friendly career site, forms, and applications that also integrate auto-fill capabilities where possible.
  • Enhance sorting and job search functionality on your career site.
  • Allow for the use of “one-click” or “easy apply” options on third party sites such as LinkedIn and Indeed.

Clearly Demonstrate Your Culture and Values- Candidates want to know what it’s like to work for your organization to make sure it’s a good fit for them. Don’t make it difficult for them to do so. Provide candidates with a clear, detailed, and authentic view of your culture and values across your website, social media profiles, and third-party platforms.

  • Pictures and videos are stronger proof-points than words. Pictures and videos should mirror your target audience and the diversity of your workforce should come through in photos and videos.
  • Clearly articulate and highlight your commitment to diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility on your career site, across hiring platforms, and on your social media platforms and profiles.

Provide Open, Responsive, and Helpful Communications-Ensure your recruiters have the tools and training to effectively engage applicants.

  • Provide alternative modes of communication such as chatbots, chat apps, text opt-ins, and social media channels.
  • Allow candidates to sign up for job alerts to stay connected with recruiters.
  • Establish SLAs for communication response times (e.g., respond to all emails within 24 hours).
  • Create standard communication points across the recruitment process.
  • Provide training to your recruiters on how to effectively communicate with applicants.

3. Recruit Scientifically

Eliminate Bias and Improve Job Descriptions- Augmented writing tools use AI to enhance job description and ad language for location, job function, clarity, and brevity while also removing unconscious bias of gender, religion, ethnicity, elitism, sexuality, etc. These tools suggest alternative content that will allow you to communicate more effectively with your intended audience and expand ad reach.

Write SEO-Friendly Job Posts- When it comes to increasing your job postings’ visibility across search engines, search engine optimization (SEO) is essential. To make your posts as SEO-friendly as possible include keywords that are relevant to the job description; make sure your URL is self-explanatory and short; use social networks to increase traffic and shares; and keep job posts between 500-700 words.

Use UTM Codes to Track Digital Recruiting Campaigns- UTM codes, applied to URLs, let you see how many users are interested and from which sites they came. Analyzing this information allows you to optimize the channels, methods, and content that you use for recruitment marketing.

Measure Your Results- Ensure you have clearly defined and measurable goals, along with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help track whether you are effectively working towards those goals. Some good KPIs to consider include- unique visitors, job views, apply starts, completed applies, and hires.

4. Automate The Processes

Use A Programmatic Job Advertising Platform- Per Appcast, programmatic job advertising uses technological platforms to automate the buying, placement, and optimization of job openings through networks of job-related websites on a performance-based model. Using complex algorithms and data, these platforms get your job openings in front of the ideal demographic, showing people the right openings, at the right time, based on their likelihood to engage with them.

Optimize Candidate Sourcing and Matching- Using AI-enhanced tools can help recruiters quickly and easily find qualified candidates. For example, AI-driven candidate aggregators acquire candidate intelligence in a fraction of the time it would take a human by automating searching digital sourcing channels. Tools such as chatbots can screen candidates, asking questions about a candidate’s skills, experiences, or qualifications, and then ranking them based on their responses.

Eliminate Manual Administration and Coordination Tasks- There are numerous tools and platforms available to automate manual and administrative recruitment tasks. You can automate outreach and follow-up efforts using automated email templates and text messages. You can even use chatbots to automatically schedule in-person and video interviews or phone screenings. Not only do automated processes help improve efficiency and decrease time to fill rates, but also, by enabling recruiters to focus more on building relationships, they help drive a positive candidate experience.