OPM expands ad campaign aimed at would-be civil servants

Six months after launching the federal government's first ever televised recruitment campaign, the Office of Personnel Management is expanding the project.

OPM, which has spent $600,000 since the start of May to produce and air four commercials in 12 markets, just created a fifth ad featuring a NASA bioengineer on the International Space Station. Each of the ads highlights a federal employee at work, followed by the tagline: "What did you do at your job today?"

So far, OPM has registered 30,000 hits to the Web site -- www.usajobs.gov/impact -- that is advertised exclusively in these commercials.

That means the agency spent about $20 per person attracted to the site. But OPM Director Linda Springer, who has spearheaded the campaign, said the numbers do not include people who went to the main federal recruiting Web site -- www.usajobs.gov -- and they include one-time production costs.

The ads have run for about two weeks in each of the markets, including Pittsburgh; Fresno, Calif.; and Wheeling, W.Va. Mostly, the locations were picked for their large numbers of 20- to 24-year-old job seekers, college graduates, high overall unemployment rates and low advertising costs. But OPM has started coordinating commercial runs with job fairs as well. Last week, the agency ran its ads in Columbus, Ohio, during a career fair at the Ohio State University.

"It is part of our overall plan to address the coming need for federal employees to replace those who retire, as well as just to continue to raise awareness of all the good things the government does," Springer said.

So far, the only way to track the ads' success is through the number of hits to the special Web site. OPM does not know of any actual jobs being filled as a result of the campaign. But Springer said the Chief Human Capital Officers Council is developing a survey of government job seekers to find out how they found out about openings.

Employees from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Agriculture Department, the Army Corps of Engineers and NASA are featured in the commercials. Springer said other agencies are asking OPM to make ads about them. Next up on the list are spots featuring younger federal workers that are designed to appeal to younger applicants.

Springer said the campaign will continue as long as she thinks it is working and as long as agencies keep asking for it. Funding will continue on an incremental basis.

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