The federal government's demand for talent in the science, technology, engineering, mathematical and medical (STEMM) fields is growing, but is often in short supply. According to research conducted by my organization, the Partnership for Public Service, and Booz Allen Hamilton, federal agencies face stiff competition from the private sector for people with STEMM skills, and cannot compete when it comes to salaries or to various workplace intangibles that are common at such companies as Facebook, Google or Apple.
About one-quarter of all federal employees, or more than 500,000 people, work in STEMM occupations today, and the number of people needed with these skills will steadily increase in the years ahead. So how can our federal government ensure it can recruit and hire the highly qualified talent it needs?
In the new report--"The Biggest Bang Theory: How to get the most out of the competitive search for STEMM employees"--we found that the federal government offers advantages that other employers cannot match, such as a chance to perform unique jobs for the country or to make a difference on a national or even international scale. NASA needs scientists to land a mission on Mars. The Department of Veterans Affairs needs physicians to treat those who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. And every agency needs IT experts who can improve service to citizens and protect our networks from cyber attack.
The trick is for agencies to market themselves and the opportunities they offer in creative ways. Some agencies are doing that, as the new report documents. Whether you're in search of STEMM talent or some other mission-critical, high-demand occupation, as a federal manager you can learn from the best practices of agencies such as NASA, VA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services. Here are a few ideas from the report to help get you started: