How to build a recruitment pipeline using a digital strategy

The public sector employs around 22 million people in the United States. With such a large workforce, there is a constant flow of employees in and out of the sector. Yet, public sector recruitment continues to be plagued by challenges such as slow and inefficient processes. Taking too long to hire means top talent may get snatched by someone else.

What if you had access to potential candidates who are ready to be recruited? You’d be able to fill positions faster and with more suitable candidates. You can overcome many public sector recruitment challenges by building a recruitment pipeline into your digital strategy.

Common Public Sector Recruitment Challenges

Attracting talent is sometimes more challenging in the public sector. Recruiters face the following obstacles:

  • Budget constraints. Some government positions don’t pay as well as the private sector. This results in talent scarcity as the best talent opts for higher-paying jobs in other sectors.
  • Outdated technology. The sector often lags when it comes to technology. This may make it an unattractive employer for the Millennial generation, who will make up the largest portion of the workforce over the next decade.
  • Other factors like political turmoil and unpredictable government shutdowns in which employees face unpaid furlough periods may dissuade potential candidates.
  • Slow recruitment processes. Those that do apply get caught in the slow-turning wheels of government bureaucracy. Candidates face lengthy application and vetting processes and may wait weeks or months for an interview. By that time, they’ve found employment elsewhere and you’ve lost a talented candidate.

How can you turn this around? One way is to embrace a digital recruitment strategy.  

How to Implement a Digital Recruitment Strategy

In a survey conducted by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, public sector recruiters listed online job advertisements, government websites and social media as the channels they had the most success in finding qualified job candidates.

So, if your pool of candidates is online, that’s where you need to show up. If you don’t have digital recruitment strategies in place, you could lose candidates to other recruiters that do.  Successful digital recruitment trends encompass the following:


If you’re still sifting through job applications manually, it’s time to say goodbye to the antiquated paper-based system. There are recruitment software applications that can manage, assess and track applications from submission to shortlisting. Some include features like automated email templates for prompt responses and onboarding management that speed up induction and training processes.

Strategic Use of Digital Media in Recruitment

Digital media is your greatest asset when it comes to building a digital recruitment pipeline. Here’s how to leverage digital media in recruitment:

  • Use social media to build a positive brand reputation. For instance, you can show what your organizational culture is like — is it fun, supportive, diverse and with opportunities to grow? If candidates like what they see, they’ll be more inclined to reach out to you for employment opportunities.
  • Create quality content. Content can attract talent, especially when recruiting executives or positions requiring specialized skills. Is your organization spearheading new initiatives, creating innovative technology or conducting groundbreaking research? Share this in your digital content. When job candidates with the relevant skills or experience read about your work, it may entice them to join your organization.  
  • Advertise online. In the same way that consumers shop online, job seekers are scouting for jobs online. If you’re not advertising online, how will they find you? Online job boards, Google Ads and Facebook advertising all allow you to narrow your search parameters so that your ad shows up in front of the most suitable job seekers.
  • Create a database of applicants. A candidate may not suit a current position, but they may be ideal for a different position. Make sure your recruitment software has cross-referencing abilities. When a position opens up, search and retrieve matching candidates and reach out to them.

How a Digital Recruitment Strategy Pays Off

Job candidates don’t want to fill out lengthy forms, take a two-hour test and then wait months to find out if their application is successful. And they’re not going to. They’re going to choose the path of least resistance. Make sure you can offer them that by Implementing a digital recruitment strategy that:

  • Shows them why you’re a great employer;
  • Makes the online application process short and sweet, and
  • Gives feedback on the outcome of the application speedily.

This is what the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) did. They revamped their applications process for correctional officer positions. Previously, applicants had to attend a one-hour Q&A webinar, followed by an information-sharing session.

To simplify the process, the CDCR removed these hurdles. They now provide the relevant job information on their website and applicants can apply directly. Almost immediately, the number of applications for corrections officers increased and positions were filled in a much shorter time.

Key Takeaways

How can a digital recruiting strategy pay off for your organization? Quick and efficient recruiting increases your chances of finding top talent who bring higher levels of creativity, productivity and leadership to your organization. That, in turn, makes your organization stronger and more dynamic.

Jason Litchney

Jason Litchney brings over 15 years of experience and passion in marketing for the public, private and non-profit sectors. Jason is a dedicated leader, national speaker and entrepreneur responsible for founding and managing the growth of multiple organizations recognized on the INC 500 fastest growing companies list. Jason serves as the Marketing and Employment Branding Manager at CPS HR Consulting and helps public agencies brand their organization to attract and retain talent.

About CPS HR Consulting

CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country.  Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients.  We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.