Five Fed agencies among 15 most desirable employers, say U.S. undergrads

A newly issued report about attitudes toward Federal employment among American undergraduate students brings some very good news for anyone in the business of government recruiting.

The report was issued by the Washington-based Partnership for Public Service (–one of TMP Government’s regular allies in initiatives to encourage public sector employment—and Universum (, a global employer branding company.

Great Expectations: What Students Want and How Federal Agencies Can Deliver It summarizes results from a survey of 30,000 American students. Among its most encouraging findings: students view five agencies—the State Department, Peace Corps, NASA, CIA, and FBI—nearly as favorably as they view Google, Walt Disney, and Apple Computer, the top three in their rankings.

But wait…there’s more. Government and public service are ranked by the survey population as the most ideal “industry” for a first job, beating out health care, education, marketing/advertising, and 42 other industry categories. For most of our readers I’d venture that this is a significant discovery. But take a moment to look beyond the warm and fuzzy feeling it gives you.

Doesn’t this finding point to a deeper population of potential recruits than many agencies imagine are out there? Certainly this research can support a case for scaling up outreach to so-called “passive” targets in America’s colleges and universities. Today many agencies are uncomfortable with this approach, which smacks of direct marketing. If you’re among this number, maybe it’s time to reevaluate.

The survey supplies equally encouraging info when it turns to the career attributes and rewards that American students value most. The top three: work/life balance, job security, and the conviction that you are serving “a greater good”. Again the news for government agencies couldn’t be better. These are authentic themes of value for government recruiting. For the vast majority of agencies, there’s no need to exaggerate the value proposition here. Play these cards freely and honestly; at the least they comprise an evocative thematic backdrop for the specific points of value that make up your agency’s brand.

Now for the bad news. There are two sour notes in the survey findings: the relative lack of enthusiasm among science and technology undergrads for government employment, and, among all respondents, starting salary expectations that are unreasonably high. I’ll discuss these results in a subsequent post.

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Thomas Delorme
Written by Thomas Delorme

VP, Digital Products & Strategy

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