The United States needs technological innovation to solve its most pressing problems—the climate crisis, health care costs, and more. Unfortunately, too few people with cutting-edge skills are interested in working in the federal government. Only 4% of federal government technologists are under 30, while over half are approaching retirement.
How can we attract Gen Z to federal technology jobs? To help answer this question, the Volcker Alliance launched LevelUp Gov: A Public Service Marketing Contest, to generate new messaging to make government tech jobs attractive to people under 30. Gen Z entrants created their own social media recruitment campaigns to get their peers excited about government work. LevelUp Gov was supported by generous funding from Schmidt Futures.
The Alliance partnered with us at the Behavioral Insights Team to market test the top 10 submissions. Our trial generated practical insights on what resonates best with Gen Z and what would attract members of this group to federal technology jobs. This paper provides an overview of the contest design, results, and insights from our trial.
The winning campaigns had a few key qualities in common:
- Emotive messages focused on social impact: The two winning campaigns showed participants the real-world impact their work could have if they pursued the advertised careers.
- High-quality visual content: Videos were generally well received by participants—the top four campaigns had video content. Participants felt that videos were more engaging and that they would be less likely to scroll past these on social media.
- Official-looking content, appropriate to the platform: While the winning campaigns departed from traditional government job postings, they retained serious messaging that aligns with the federal government’s image.
Download the paper below to see the winners and gain other valuable insights, such as the platforms Gen Zers prefer and the characteristics of government jobs that appeal to them.
We are grateful to Anna Wallman and Peter Morrisey of the Volcker Alliance, as well as our BIT colleagues, Brianne Kirkpatrick and Laura Callender, for their work in LevelUp Gov and their support in producing this paper.