The new normal for local government human resource managers is less. Less staff, less budget, and less time to do more. Hire more people, who are more qualified, and fill more open positions faster. The communities that are succeeding in this new normal are those that have turned to cloud-based automation tools to help expedite the hiring process, and identify more talented, civic-minded job candidates.

More Application Channels. More Open Positions.

The number of job candidates searching online has doubled since 2005, according to data from the Pew Research Center. Today, 54 percent of Americans use the Internet to research available jobs, while nearly 45 percent apply for jobs online. Not only are Internet job searches on the rise, but the use of social media has also grown 54 percent as a recruitment tool as well, providing more opportunities for active and passive job seekers to find available positions.

Human resource managers are not only choosing candidates from digitally, and socially-minded applicant pools. They are selecting applicants who are mobile-savvy as well. 28 percent of job seekers, including 53 percent of those ages 18 to 29, have used a smartphone as part of their job search.

Despite these digital conveniences, and the speed with which candidates can find and apply for jobs from a desktop computer or a mobile device, the latest data shows that these conveniences are not helping to fill open positions and close job gaps more quickly. In fact, 45 percent of surveyed employers reported that their time to fill open positions has grown since 2014. Where is the disconnect? Shouldn’t more applications, completed more quickly, and in digital format, allow for more efficient hiring? Not if human resource managers do not have a tool in place to help them receive, review, and route the high level of job applications they are receiving daily.

The Challenge for Local Government.

Local government HR managers are being asked to fill open positions faster, help with individual career development plans, and enable effective performance evaluations, all with less annual budget and a smaller staff. Among those human resource professionals recently surveyed, 17.1 percent of their time was spent on operations management and administrative work, while only 6.4 percent was spent on recruiting and executive search.

Human resource professionals who are being inundated with a higher quantity of applicants, who are not necessarily of a higher quality, just do not have the time to give every job search for every open position across a community the focus and attention needed to fill the gap quickly.

Digital Solutions as the Key to Overcoming the Quantity Versus Quality Conundrum.

It is in the balance between quantity and quality where human resource managers are losing valuable time needed to focus on hiring the best talent for their communities. As local governments continue to feel the pressure of limited resources, leading to the need for the most effective performers in every role, the human resource departments that are succeeding are those in which the time-consuming process of reviewing, screening, and managing applications is automated through a cloud-based solution. Such tools allow human resource and department hiring managers to find and hire the most qualified candidates—and hire them faster.

What is Applicant Tracking Software (ATS)?

An ATS solution helps human resource managers to more efficiently receive, screen, track, and hire job candidates, while effectively communicating and collaborating with hiring departments. By automating aspects of the documentation, application routing, candidate communication, and job posting processes, human resource departments of any size can fill open positions faster, and with highly qualified candidates.

Across the nation, human resource departments of all sizes—in cities, counties, townships, and villages of all sizes—are reporting that they can more quickly hire better-qualified individuals by transitioning from a manual recruitment and hiring process to an ATS. While its perhaps the primary goal for many local governments that invest in an ATS, minimizing the time-to-fill metric is not the only reason, HR professionals are implementing ATS systems.

ATS Solutions Help Public Sector Entities Avoid Discrimination Lawsuits.

Using an ATS, HR managers can prescreen job applicants and identify, through an automated process, only those applicants that meet pre-established baseline qualification metrics. Such automation removes the need for a manual review, and the chance of an unfair, discriminatory subjective assessment.

ATS Solutions Increase Employee Retention.

The right ATS helps HR managers identify the most qualified applicants the first time. With the average cost of a new hire in a mid-level assignment being estimated by some at nearly $60,000, hiring an unfit candidate is too costly to risk. Employees are most likely to remain in a position if they feel they have been given clear expectations, that they have an opportunity for personal growth and development, and that their contributions are impacting a greater good.

ATS solutions help HR managers identify such results-motivated candidates by incorporating goal-oriented performance profiles, rather than task-objective job descriptions, into the recruitment process. By encouraging HR managers to create performance profiles that focus on performance outcomes, rather than on daily tasks, local governments are more likely to receive higher quality, goal-oriented, and civic-minded candidates prepared to commit to a position in local government.

ATS Solutions Ensure EEOC and OFCCP Compliance.

Local governments are required to comply with reporting mandates established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). Manual reporting is not only time-consuming, but it also increases the risk of reports being submitted with errors, or delays. ATS systems automatically track the data needed for mandated compliance reports and allow for the necessary documentation to be generated annually.


The expectation for government HR managers to do more with less isn’t a temporary adjustment. It is the new normal. An investment in an automated system that takes the burden of searching for quality applicants among the increasing quantity of applicants can allow your local government to find the best people who will be committed to making the most significant impact in your community.

About the Author Jonathan Wiersma

As the General Manager for CivicHR, Jonathan understands the challenges that human resource professionals in local government face when looking to recruit, identify, and hire the best talent for their community. Jonathan’s primary focus at CivicPlus is on following the trends in the local government human resource landscape, and leading product enhancements for CivicHR to ensure the solution evolves as the needs of local government evolve. Jonathan holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. He has over fifteen years of experience in software research and development, process improvement, client service, product implementations, sales, and marketing.