Federal Manager's Daily Report

San Jose, CA - April 2019: Robert F. Peckham federal building, home of the Social Security Administration and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Federal agencies in California face many of the same hiring challenges common nationwide but in some cases more severe – and those agencies are trying creative ways to adapt, says a report from the Partnership for Public Service.

The report notes that California has the largest number of federal employees outside the national capital area, some 150,000, and faces common issues including a dearth of younger employees and high percentage of employees closing in on retirement—nearly half of current employees there will be retirement-eligible by 2028.

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While non-competitive salaries are a challenge for hiring offices everywhere, “The pay disparity is even greater in some parts of California . . . The situation is made even more difficult because of competition from the private sector as well as from state and local governments. These entities often offer higher salaries and have faster, more efficient hiring processes,” it says.

While federal offices there are limited in their ability to pay incentives to help make up the difference in salaries, agencies have had success by concentrating their recruiting efforts locally, it says. “Agency officials said hiring managers tend to have success targeting students and recent graduates within California because they have a better understanding of the cost of living and often can initially live at home or with friends.”

Other strategies include building relationships with colleges by having agency officials participate in career fairs and the like, and in particular targeting smaller, more diverse and less well-known schools that “tend to have more first-generation students, veterans and students with disabilities, enabling his agency to target quality candidates who may be qualified for expedited hiring processes.”

In a competitive hiring environment the speed of the process also is important, the report said, and offices have been concentrating on shortening the time through steps such as having all managers potentially interested in hiring a candidate participate in a joint interview rather than a series of individual interviews.