I was chatting with a colleague about that article in yesterday’s Citizen on the challenges around attracting young people to Govt jobs. He was wondering whether social networking sites like Facebook were an appropriate space for the Govt to be in.
My thinking is that if that’s where the people you want to reach are at, then that’s where you have to go to get their attention. Here’s another secondhand quote from what the Youthography guy was saying:
[Young people value] relationships, communication, information, diversity and empowerment, and technology knits it all together for them. With the Internet and digital technology, today’s youth have created seismic changes in how society creates, consumes and manages culture and communications.
And don’t forget the bit about Facebook being “the most important networking technology in [young people's] lives.”
Contrast this with a federal government that bans workplace access to Facebook and other social networks, that is — notable exception aside — almost entirely silent on the social media front, that often appears clueless about online culture.
So here’s the kernel of an idea:
On Facebook, use the Groups feature to set up an info-sharing forum for GoC careers. It’d be about how the federal hiring process works, what all those funny words mean, what the GoC does and how it works. Aimed at recent grads or twentysomethings who would be interested in or curious about a PS career. Seed with content from from other GoC souces – there’s lots of stuff already created (and translated) that’s available, it’s just scattered around. Example: stories that profile what different bureaucrats do in the civil service — many internal employee newsletters already regularly create features like these.
Welcome questions from group members, encourage them to share. Keep it at a high level — not so much about recruiting for specific jobs (and definitely not about giving people an inside track). Definitely about providing clear, objective and factual info on how to research GoC jobs, the staffing process, the breadth of career options, etc.
In the interests of keeping info accessible to those outside the FB network, content could be pushed to or pulled from a GoC hosted blog or website.
Come to think of it, doing a GoC wide thing might be too daunting for starters – so you could pick a smaller slice to start with – like the communications community f’r instance ;+)
So anyhow, this idea is a way to attain cheap reach – content creation costs would be minimal, a lot less than touring around the country to attend job fairs and whatnot. (Salary costs obviously involved for the folks who are keeping the group active, collecting and generating content, but hey if you are working on the PS renewal file then it’s a no brainer.)
More importantly, this is an attempt at relevance — by just being in the social networking space, you can start working against the impression of a stodgy, hidebound institution for old and grey white folks. Sure there would be a lot of vibes along the lines of “yes GoC staffing is a crazy process, but we are trying here to make things better.” I see no harm in being realistic.
Obvious risks — It’d be a target for cranks, but then anything we do is. Also, you’d have to deal with people looking for an inside track, but make the gound rules clear from the outset. Also tone is key – if not done right, could be seen as condescending or phony. No cheerleading, no spin, no b.s.
Obviously this is far from fully thought through. But is it a reasonable starting point?
Update: here’s an example from the private sector of a successful recruiting strategy on Facebook – the Ernst & Young Careers group on Facebook. Looks a lot like the kind of thing I had in mind…