SHRM Survey on Recruiting Shows Government Doing More with Less

Government organizations have smaller talent acquisition budgets than private industry but are more likely to fill jobs internally and have lower turnover

Apr 18, 2016

ORLANDO, Fla. — Government entities are more likely to have smaller recruiting budgets and a heavier workload for recruiters than private industry, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found in a new talent acquisition survey.

SHRM’s Talent Acquisition Benchmarks, a survey of more than 1,900 randomly selected HR professionals, showed that the ratio of recruitment budget to HR budget for federal, state and local government entities was 17 percent, about one-half less than that of private industry. In comparison, the ratio was 32 percent for publicly owned for-profits and 36 percent for privately owned for-profits. 

The average number of requisitions per recruiter or HR full-time employee was 51 for government organizations, 35 for privately owned for-profits and 46 for publicly owned for-profits.

But, at the same time, government entities cited a lower turnover rate: 14 percent of total departures were employees hired in the last six months vs. 36 percent reported by privately owned for-profits.

Government organizations also were more likely to fill positions internally. Thirty-two percent of government respondents said they did so in the last 12 months, compared to 23 percent of respondents in privately owned for-profits.

Released at SHRM’s 2016 Talent Management Conference & Exposition in Orlando, the survey also offered these overall statistics on talent acquisition for all organizations (infographic):

  • The top sourcing tools that organizations used to recruit for job openings were employee referrals (used by 83 percent of respondents), company website (81 percent) and social media (67 percent).
  • Automated pre-screening tools were used by 26 percent of organizations to review job applicant resumes.
  • The time to fill a position was 41 days. Within that timeframe, it took an average of nine days from when a job was opened to the start of candidate screening.
  • The primary responsibility for extending a verbal offer of employment was held by an HR professional (noted by 40 percent of respondents), hiring manager (30 percent) and recruiter (22 percent). 
  • When an offer of employment was made to a candidate, the overall average acceptance rate was 89 percent.
  • Only 23 percent of organizations measured the quality of their hires. The top metrics for measurement were job-performance review by hiring manager (cited by 69 percent of respondents), retention rate (57 percent) and performance appraisal scores (49 percent).

Methodology: The survey polled 1,974 randomly selected HR professionals from November 2015 to January 2016. It has a margin of error of plus or minus about 2 percent.

For details, visit and see Infographic.

Media: For more information, contact Vanessa Hill at and 703-535-6072 or Kate Kennedy at and 703-535-6260.

About the Society for Human Resource Management

Founded in 1948, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR membership organization devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 275,000 members in over 160 countries, the Society is the leading provider of resources to serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the professional practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @SHRMPress. 


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