An analytics tool helps the Department of Homeland Security recruit talent
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An analytics tool helps the Department of Homeland Security recruit talent

December 4, 2020 | Updated on July 14, 2021
Zainab Syed

The Department of Homeland Security, like many agencies, often struggles to recruit high-quality candidates into government service. DHS recently developed a new digital tool to address this challenge: the Strategic Marketing, Outreach, and Recruiting Engagement platform. This in-house platform, which DHS calls SMORE, enables the agency to use data analytics to recruit and hire new personnel more effectively, providing important statistics on who, where, how and why applicants join the applicant pool and, eventually the agency.

What is it and how does it use data?

The department launched its platform in early 2020, enabling the organization and its components to track their recruitment activities and successes in real time.

The tool has a master calendar DHS can use to predict the composition of an applicant pool based on the location of a recruitment activity, its target audience and the type of event. After the activity, DHS’ components enter additional information into the platform, including the event cost, attendance and promotional material distributed, using drop-down menus and predetermined response options. This method helps DHS minimize data entry errors and ensure standardization.

Importantly, interactive and user-friendly dashboards present the information as data visualizations, providing DHS employees with access to advanced recruitment analytics and promoting knowledge sharing across the agency.

“It’s all about analytics,” said Angela Bailey, the chief human capital officer at DHS. “You can urge components not to limit recruiting to Texas and California, but it can fall on deaf ears. But showing them a map with Texas and California colored dark blue [indicating heavy recruiting] and the rest of the country very pale blue [indicating light recruiting] really drives the point home.”

How does DHS use the platform to improve recruiting?

The marketing, outreach and recruiting platform has made the DHS recruitment process more transparent, efficient, cost-effective and user-friendly. The master calendar, along with snapshots and analytics of recruitment events throughout the fiscal year, enable DHS’ components to stay informed about new recruitment opportunities. For example, if Customs and Border Protection is registered to attend a career fair in San Diego, the Secret Service might notice it on the calendar and ask to join.

“Eventually, we’ll be able to say things like, ‘When we recruit and hire from X university, people stay five years. But when we recruit and hire from Y university, they only stay three months,” Bailey said. “Then we can dig in and find out why. Maybe we’re sending the wrong recruiters or maybe we’re targeting the wrong talent pool.”

Use the platform’s framework to improve talent recruitment at your agency

The Strategic Marketing, Outreach, and Recruiting Engagement platform is a powerful recruiting tool for critical talent. For more information on federal talent acquisition, read “A Time for Talent: Improving Federal Recruiting and Hiring.” You can also visit the DHS website for more information on the new recruiting platform.

Zainab Syed is a former intern on the Partnership’s Research, Analysis and Evaluation team.