Great Expectations! What Students Want in an Employer and How Federal Agencies Can Deliver It

cover thumbnail Author(s): Partnership and Universum USA
Publication Date: 01/14/2009
Publication Topics: Attitudes Toward Government Service, College Students and Entry-Level Careers, Compensation, Benefits and Student Loan Repayment, Recruiting and Hiring
Publication Type: Research Reports and Surveys
Download ACROBAT 340k Download


Changes in the economy may be driving shifts in public perceptions about what constitutes an ideal workplace, potentially creating new opportunities for some employers to bring in top talent, including the nation's largest employer: our federal government.

The report is based on Universum's 2008 survey of 43,000 undergraduates that identifies qualities young people seek in employers. Key findings from 32,000 American respondents include:

  • Among students surveyed, "Government/public service" is the most popular choice out of 46 options. Seventeen percent of undergraduates selected the government/public service industry as one in which they would "ideally want to work when choosing their first employment after graduation." The next most popular are health care (13 percent), education (12 percent), and marketing/advertising (11 percent).
  • Five of students' top 15 "ideal" employers-- from a list of 260-- are federal agencies. Jobs with the Department of State, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Peace Corps, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are all highly coveted, among students surveyed.
  • Government offers the main qualities undergraduates seek. A healthy work/life balance is undergraduates' number one career goal, with 66 percent of students citing this as a priority. Serving the greater good and job stability are tied as the second most desirable traits.

To help federal agencies put the survey results to use, the report recommends that agency recruiters:

  • Understand the preferences of the new generation of students they seek to hire and distinctly brand their agencies so that those students understand what they do and what they offer.
  • Adjust their strategic and tactical recruiting plans to meet students' needs.
  • Meet students online and on campus and provide them with the information and meaningful human contact they seek.

    Start a new search »

The Partnership for Public Service is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to revitalize our federal government by inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way government works.


Participants' Insights Into the PMF Program
In the Partnership’s issue brief, we surveyed, with assistance from the Office of Personnel Management, members of the Presidential Management Fellows class of 2011 after completing their two-year fellowships to assess the program’s strengths and weaknesses as well as participants’ satisfaction with their supervisors and rotational and work assignments.
Download ACROBAT 125k Download
Serving Citizens: Strategies for Customer-Centered Government in the Digital Age
The Partnership for Public Service and Accenture highlight lessons learned from federal initiatives that have simplified and streamlined the process of interacting with the government by implementing a customer-centered approach to digital services.
Download ACROBAT 495k Download
Fed Figures 2014-Federal Departures
Who did government lose in 2013? The Partnership for Public Service analyzed recent separations data for full-time, nonseasonal, permanent civilian employees who left the federal government in fiscal 2013 in executive branch agencies, excluding the U.S. Postal Service.
Download ACROBAT 95k Download
2013 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® Analysis: Effective Leadership Communication
Communication from agency leadership can have a significant impact on employee attitudes toward their jobs and workplaces. But according to a new Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® analysis from the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte, communicating effectively and motivating employees is a challenge for many leaders, with only half of the federal workforce satisfied with the level of communication from senior leaders and managers.
Download ACROBAT 113k Download
Fed Figures 2014-Federal Hiring
As a result of the 2008–2009 economic downturn and increased budget constraints, federal hiring has been on the decline. With fewer opportunities to bring on new employees, it is critical for agencies to focus on hiring the most highly qualified individuals to meet the nation’s needs. Who did government hire in 2013 and how has the profile of this hiring class evolved from previous years? Where are these new employees located and in which agencies do they serve? To answer these questions, the Partnership for Public Service analyzed recent hiring data for full-time, nonseasonal, permanent civilian employees hired in fiscal 2013 in executive branch agencies, excluding the U.S. Postal Service.
Download ACROBAT 131k Download
Embracing Change: CHCOs Rising to the Challenge of an Altered Landscape
The Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thornton LLP surveyed 60 chief human capital officers and agency HR leaders regarding the challenges facing the federal workforce. The report also includes recommendations from these leaders for rebuilding and strengthening the federal workforce.
Download ACROBAT 621k Download
A More Efficient and Effective Government: Cultivating the Federal Workforce
Partnership President and CEO Max Stier’s testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce on the state of the federal workforce.
Download ACROBAT 503k Download
Building the Enterprise: A New Civil Service Framework
In the report, the Partnership for Public Service calls for major reforms to the federal government’s decades-old civil service system and lays out a plan to modernize areas that include the outdated pay and hiring policies.
Download ACROBAT 307k Download
Management Matters: Creating a 21st Century Government – Part II, Outside Views
Partnership President and CEO Max Stier’s testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about the management challenges facing our federal government.
Download ACROBAT 242k Download