Recruitment for government jobs is a great opportunity to demonstrate how letting data free can improve the quality of government. Why do I start with such a blunt statement. This post pointed me to the growing discussion here on Tom Watson’s site about how recruitment in government might be given the Power of Information (pdf) Task Force treatment.
Treat all jobs for public bodies as your data set.
Don’t get distracted by a big recruitment website. A number of comments suggest a single jobs.gov.uk website. The opportunity here comes from allowing information about jobs to flow into all the little cracks of the web, to be placed under the eyeballs of those with the skills, knowledge, passion and ideas to be brilliant at the jobs. This does not mean we necessarily need a single website where all government vacancies are presented. However we would need a mechanism for standardising information about vacancies and attaching that to a myriad of rss feeds. To do that we might require something on the web where jobs are submitted… How about a government jobs equivalent of flickr – where descriptions etc can be reasonably standardised, those submitting the jobs can add them to groups they think are relevant, tag them as they see fit but critically important others can further group and tag the jobs. Obviously all tags, groups etc should have their own rss feeds to allow sites across the web to bring the jobs to the attention of their niches.
Social media requires social objects. Can the culture of writing job ads change so they become more of a social object, encouraging people to share them around the web? With that in mind services which widgetise government jobs and make them embed-able should be encouraged. (Did I just write widgetise a government job! Wince.)
Geotag. Place is also a niche. Almost everybody has a geographical constraint on where they will work so all jobs should be geotagged. (imagine how developers/economic regeneration experts/community advocates etc might use such data. Think of the opportunities for schools/colleges/adult ed to monitor required skills and meet them).
Crowd Source Job Descriptions/Person Specs. Most work cultures suffer from recruiting the type of worker they already understand to fill roles they already recognise. The government jobs version of flickr could also be used to seek suggestions of what skills would be needed to solve particular problems. Before recruiting pop up a description of what needs to be achieved (tagged etc) and ask people what type of person could nail that. Sort of a recruitment sandbox.
Don’t stifle competition for employees. Government departments, NHS trusts, local councils should be encouraged to present jobs on their own websites in their own context. It’s partly there that they begin selling themselves to potential employees and this competition should be encouraged, not hampered.
One final thought is that a single rss feed containing all government jobs would be political dynamite, a satirists Nirvana.