Comprehensive Human Capital Services for the Air Force
Since 2009, MarCom Group, Inc. has worked to supply custom human resources solutions to enable the U.S. Air Force to attract, retain, and manage a top-quality civilian workforce to meet the Air Force's critical mission requirements. Our work with the Air Force has covered a broad spectrum of services and the development of a vast array of tools and products to aid in the Human Resources mission of the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC).
Evaluation and Research – Our engagement began with 16 focus groups with managers and incumbents at Air Force bases across the country, a series of executive interviews with managers and recruiters, and a survey of employees in highly-specialized hard to fill positions. Findings from this initial study helped to identify the key media and messages for influencing prospective employees, as well as the tools, support, and consultative services required by recruiters. In addition, our research helped uncover a variety of issues that were hampering the performance of AFPC's human resources functions and initial insights into how to address them.
Our research efforts continued with focus group testing of recruitment concepts with prospective employees. This study enabled MarCom Group to fine tune the various messages and communication tools that would ultimately be deployed on behalf of the Air Force. Further evaluation and research has been an ongoing part of this relationship.
Employment Value Proposition (EVP) – Many of the findings from the initial research study informed the crafting of an EVP for Air Force civilian employees. MarCom Group explored the pros and cons of civilian employment with the Air Force among current employees and paired these findings with primary and secondary research into the wants and needs of prospects in targeted demographics and career paths. This work led to the creation of an EVP that not only attracts prospective employees and provides them with a realistic set of expectations regarding civilian careers with the Air Force, but also serves as a reminder to management and leadership of the kind of employer that the Air Force strives to be.
Recruitment Marketing Strategy – To support the Air Force's civilian recruiting objectives, MarCom Group has recommended and implemented a variety of recruitment marketing efforts. As existing recruitment tools were limited and inconsistent, it was incumbent upon MarCom Group to develop a comprehensive strategy to present the Air Force as the major employer of civilian workers that it is. Following is a sampling of the strategies and tactics developed by MarCom Group.
- Distinctive Branding – While the Air Force has a long history of highly visible marketing for military recruitment, the civilian component has remained unfamiliar to many prospects, even though the size and scope of Air Force civilian hiring is on a level with the world's largest corporations. In addition, those who had any awareness of civilian Air Force careers were often confused about the relationship to the military and the requirement for a military commitment.
To address these issues, MarCom Group recommended a new name, logo, and personality to be used in all Air Force civilian recruitment efforts. With approval from the highest levels, Air Force Civilian Service (AFCS) became the new name for the entire civilian component, paired with a new logo that visually illustrates the dynamic nature of AFCS work. The logo is a reference to flight, it pays homage to the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, VA, and it speaks to the advanced technology at the heart of the AFCS mission.
- Eye-Catching, Multi-Featured Recruitment Website – The transformation to AFCS also required a state of the art Web presence that would attract prospects and encourage them to stay and explore the site. MarCom Group designed and executed www.afciviliancareers.com as a comprehensive resource for information about civilian careers but also as a resource for AFCS managers for hiring and other HR-related issues. Some of the unique features of the site include:
- A contemporary design, unlike most Federal agency websites, featuring a unique navigation system, a variety of interactive features, and a wealth of information about Air Force civilian careers and the Federal hiring process.
- A "Job Match Machine" that enables potential applicants to identify how their education or experience best fits AFCS's needs in hard-to-fill, mission-critical, and common career field occupations and locations. This application is unique within the Federal sector and utilizes the best examples of such a device from private sector sites.
- A Jobs Map that enables job seekers to easily see and explore worldwide job opportunities on an interactive map. The Jobs Map pulls job data from OPM's USAJOBS system thanks to MarCom Group's unique collaboration with OPM's USAJOBS team.
- A "Resume Coach" that helps prospects understand the application process for Federal jobs. The information is presented in a Q&A format featuring video presentations by subject matter experts to guide new applicants through the process.
- Informational pages covering subjects such as Eligibility vs. Qualification, Special Hiring Authorities, and an updated Federal Hiring Terms Glossary.
- A series of video Career Field Profiles that combine interviews with actual AFCS employees with original "b-roll" footage showing the work that they and their colleagues do. Each Profile explains the main mission of the Career Field, discusses the various jobs that are available, and allows AFCS personnel to talk about why they think a career with the Air Force as a civilian is a truly unique opportunity.
- Ongoing evaluation of website visitation and usage. Monthly reports are prepared and furnished to AFCS leadership and adjustments have been made to optimize site performance.
MarCom Group's work on the AFCS website led to our being tasked with developing sites for the Air Force STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program and the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Targeted Advertising/Recruitment Marketing – To drive traffic to the new website, MarCom Group designed advertising and provided media recommendations to AFCS. The theme of the initial campaign was "It's time you knew." addressing the fact that the enormous opportunity presented by AFCS had gone unrecognized for far too long. This line was replaced by "Forces. Joined." signifying the union between the civilian and military sides of the Air Force and connoting that the combined team is a force to be reckoned with.
We developed media recommendations to address the top hiring priorities for AFCS: diversity and hard-to-fill positions. The Air Force commitment to diversity also led to an additional assignment for MarCom Group that required the creation of a marketing campaign for the USAF Diversity Operations Division. Other key audiences include students and mid-career professionals in the STEM professions, security forces and medical specialties.
Flexible Event Display – While the military side of the Air Force has long maintained an impressive variety of exhibit displays, the civilian side has been severely lacking. To ensure that AFCS would attract more than its share of interested prospects, MarCom Group developed a visually-arresting, interactive, and flexible exhibit display.
The AFCS exhibit captures attention from hundreds of feet away with its soaring blue arcs, reminiscent of the contrails that inspired the Air Force Memorial and the AFCS logo. The display's free-standing elements can be combined in various ways to create 10’x10’, 20’x20’, or 30’x30’ exhibits for a variety of events, including a center stage for live presentations.
Visitors to the exhibit encounter a dazzling, two-sided holographic display featuring 3-D representations of various Air Force technology and aircraft with motion and sound effects. They also enjoy 22 interactive learning modules on five multimedia touchscreen kiosks, including one that is disabled-accessible. The kiosks allow users to take a self-guided tour through a variety of AFCS and STEM initiatives and enjoy a variety of animations, videos, and games.
The variable configuration of the exhibit allows other Air Force components—such as Active Duty, Reserve, ROTC, the US Air Force Academy, STEM, and others—to bring their individual exhibits under a common "umbrella" look, reinforcing the theme of "Forces. Joined."
Event Management Services – In addition to designing and coordinating construction of the display, MarCom Group has also been actively involved in identifying event opportunities and coordinating attendance by AFCS personnel. We secure space at events, oversee delivery, setup, and teardown of the exhibit; and work with AFCS personnel to maximize their impact at events including ROI tracking mechanisms.
Applicant Tracking System – MarCom Group also developed an Applicant Tracking System combining automated online systems with reengineered and revised business processes to allow us to track prospects as they move through the hiring process. This enables continual evaluation and improvement of our recruitment efforts.
Web-based tools – A section of the new AFCS Web site provides Air Force management and leadership with a one-stop resource for all their human capital management and hiring needs. Access to this information was identified as an area for improvement, so MarCom Group developed a Managers' Resource Center to provide information related to specific options and processes for fulfilling critical HR responsibilities in hiring and retention. The Center is updated regularly by MarCom Group Federal HR experts in consultation with Air Force HR Managers and includes such features as a Student and Recent Graduates component based on the new Pathways Program guidelines.
Additional web-based tools include a series of educational and informative videos:
- "The 80-day Hiring Model" – This series of animated videos walks the viewer through six steps to meeting the requirements of the President's initiative to streamline and shorten the hiring process. Viewers are presented with information on the changes inherent in hiring reform as well as suggestions for successfully meeting new deadlines.
- "Guide to Workforce Shaping Procedures" – These videos answer questions about budget reductions and their impact on the workforce in such areas as the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority, Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay, and Reduction in Force.
- "Employee Retention" – The impact of budget reductions on the workforce makes retaining key employees in hard to fill positions that much more important, so MarCom Group developed a set of video tools to help managers meet the wants and needs of their top employees.
Customer-Centric Service Initiative – MarCom Group HR specialists consulted with Air Force managers to identify ways to make staff more aware of the impact of HR service delivery on achieving mission critical results. Specifically, MarCom Group designed and delivered technical assistance resulting in a better understanding of "customer-centric" behaviors that will enable staff to meet the specific HR service delivery needs of AFPC.
Results – This program has met and exceeded expectations for our Air Force clients. Among the successes recognized by our client POC and shared with senior Air Force leadership are:
- Dramatic increases in the effectiveness of participation in Career Fairs/Events
- Reduction in the number of days to hire
- Elevated quality of applicants, particularly for hard-to-fill, mission-critical positions
- Increase in the number of positions successfully filled with a single announcement
- An average of over 40,000 visits per month to the new AFCS Web site
- Extreme reductions in cost per hire to roughly 12% of industry average