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Ask 18F — How do you recruit employees?

Ask 18F is an advice column that answers questions sent in by federal employees. Our technical experts aim to provide you helpful resources and a good starting point to tackle your problem. Got a question? No matter how small the task or how big the project, email us at *18f@gsa.gov*.

Dear 18F: We’re curious about how 18F recruits employees. Is it word of mouth? Marketing plans? Job fairs?

Amanda Schonfeld - Talent Team recruiting lead

I’m part of the Technology Transformation Services’ (TTS) Talent Team, and we work with 18F to advertise open positions, interview candidates, and get them hired to the team. We have various ways of increasing our applicant pools. Word of mouth is definitely one of them. Our own 18F employees do a great job of helping us promote our opportunities on their own personal social media networks. They also help by doing community outreach, such as posting our job opportunities in industry Slack channels, listservs, and jobs boards and then offering to talk to interested candidates about what it’s like to work at 18F.

Screenshot of the TTS Referral Submission Form showing questions
  about a referral candidate.

Screenshot of the TTS Talent Referral Submission Form

One of the best ways we find talented candidates is through referrals from current 18F and TTS staff. We have an easy Google form for TTS employees to submit referrals to the Talent Team. Once we get a referral, we reach out to the potential candidate, talk to them about TTS (including 18F), and see what opportunities might be of interest to them. We also walk them through what to expect in our government hiring process. Most candidates are not familiar with the government qualification process and the importance of meeting specialized experience in order to meet minimum qualifications, so we highlight this in our conversations. We also provide a general overview of creating a federal-style resume and walk them through the steps in the hiring process including about how long things will take. We do have a comprehensive explanation of all of this on our Join TTS site as well. Anyone who is interested can also sign-up via the Join TTS website to be notified when positions of interest will be posted.

If 18F staff aren’t sure if they know someone who is right for a certain position, we schedule a “sourcing jam.” During these “sourcing jams,” we walk 18F employees through their online networks to find potential talent for 18F. The Talent Team then reaches out to this talent to see if they might be interested in applying to an 18F role.

Beyond the personal networks of staff, the Talent Team also focuses on outreach to relevant private sector groups. When TTS employees attend conferences and events, Talent gives them a tool kit with easy talking points about our offices and tips on what to look for in a candidate so they can easily evangelize TTS to people they meet. In addition, Talent works with our Diversity and Inclusion Guild to reach out to various groups of potential talent, such as historically black college and university alumni groups, professional associations, and networking groups.

All of these efforts have definitely increased our candidate applicant pools, but keep in mind that increasing your applicant pool is only the very beginning stage of adding talent to an organization. Candidate experience matters. If we get great applicants, but they decide to drop out of the process because of long delays with no information, 18F won’t be able to hire the people we need. The Talent Team shepherds all candidates throughout the entire hiring process, providing details on what to expect as well as how long the process will take at regular and consistent intervals all the way from application to selection. We also send out anonymous candidate experience surveys to all our candidates in order to gain valuable feedback on how we can improve our process.

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