2009 Outlook 1: Taking advantage of all eyes on government

We begin 2009 with a new administration, a new communications organization serving government and this new blog. In terms of the administration, a President, promising “change we can believe in,” has created a buoyant atmosphere. Meanwhile a financial crisis and an economic downturn have caused people to look to government for answers … and jobs.

This “positive perfect storm” or “virtuous cycle” spotlights the public sector and, by extension, our new organization and this blog. TMP Worldwide has created TMP Government as a wholly owned subsidiary focused on the recruitment and outreach communications needs of government, contractors and associations.

Consequently this blog will focus on helping you communicate whether your responsibilities involve a government agency, a government contractor or a non-profit association. In short, our role is to serve the community of people whose work centers on the executive and legislative functions of government at every level.

Today we’ll look at the employment side of government. Then we’ll talk about contracting and associations.

 

Revving up the career marketplace

The end of 2008 has seen an upsurge of interest in government jobs. Government agencies may well have an unprecedented opportunity to close a looming skills gap with a new generation of highly qualified employees.

In October, Computerworld reported that the USAJOBS.gov website was drawing 500,000 hits a day, some 45% greater than the daily traffic six months earlier. Previously elusive passive job seekers with prized talents may well be in this mix of those trying to land a government position.

That venerable source of “news you can use,” U.S. News & World Report, is making a case for these candidates in its 30 Best Careers for 2009. Liz Wolgemuth, a Money & Business reporter, writes, “Workers who crave job security may find their last bastion of hope in the federal government.”

Ms. Wolgemuth backs up this rather severe proclamation: “Government can always raise taxes or print more money — and it still offers full-time, well-paying positions with generous benefits, including ample holidays, sick days, and vacation days.” She concludes with the oft-spoken fact that there will be “plenty of jobs to choose from, as a big chunk of federal employees become eligible for retirement over the next decade.”

For now, we note that Ms. Wolgemuth emphasizes what TMP calls “functional” and “economic” aspects of a government career. In subsequent blog postings, we will discuss how most government agencies find it advantageous to differentiate themselves on the psychological or “mission” aspects of the job.

Mr. President, please issue a call to service

The demand side seems ready to take advantage of the emerging boom for talent. A survey of chief human capital officers and federal human resources executives, released by the Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thornton LLP, asks the new president to assume the role of recruiter-in-chief and issue a “national call to government service.”

Of course, attracting new candidates to the public sector is only the first step. A 2006 Gallup Poll showed that only a handful of agencies have high awareness combined with a strong reputation. Hence, many first-time visitors to USAJOBS are confronting a faceless sea of unknowns. In a later discussion, we’ll talk about some of the basic and differentiating information these candidates want to know about government employers.

Next: 2009 Outlook 2: Contracting for Change

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Thomas Delorme
Written by Thomas Delorme

VP, Digital Products & Strategy

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