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State Leaders Look to Data to Improve Recruitment

State leaders are focusing on recruitment and retention solutions, and data was a main theme at Thursday's California Leadership Forum.

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State government leaders are focusing on recruitment and retention solutions, and data was a main theme at Thursday's California Leadership Forum in Sacramento, sponsored by Governing* magazine.

Department leaders are looking to data to improve processes and streamline job postings and offset the differences in the multiple-generation workforce.

"Data is super powerful," Paul Ogden, director of the Franchise Tax Board's Business and Human Resources Bureau, told Techwire in an interview. That data applies to people and processes. 

"Don't just automate a process that is broken," Ogden said. "Look at the process and fix the process first."

Knowing what the hiring and onboarding process is allows for adjustments to that process, said Sarah Gessler, statewide workforce planning and recruitment manager at the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR). She spoke in a breakout session at the forum alongside Ogden.

Gessler suggested analyzing positions, job descriptions and skill requirements, even under the time pressure of filling a vacancy. 

Knowing what is working in recruitment is important, too, Gessler said.

State Auditor Elaine Howle said her department has a strategic goal focused on recruitment, and her younger employees are helping change the process.

"One of the best ways to get additional outreach resources is to be able to demonstrate and show how your current resources are actually working," she said.

Ogden said that the way a department presents itself is important: "If you have this product plated correctly, you want to eat it."

That's especially the case because departments are often "fighting over the same talent."

"How do we use these tools in recruiting?" Howle said. "And if we are using those tools, some of the staff are going to see us differently. We're not some old government agency that is not willing to keep up with the trends: 'They must be a pretty cool organization, or an organization that is willing to be creative, advance itself and be more modern.'"

*Governing is a sister publication of Techwire.

Kayla Nick-Kearney was a staff writer for Techwire from March 2017 through January 2019.