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How to Implement Career Ambassador Program

​The CAP model allows organizations to align their focused recruitment efforts with strategic goals, proactively set measures to evaluate success, and includes detail as to how to invite, track and manage employee resources.

For each of the steps, consider what will best fit your organization’s culture and will be sustainable by the resources available to you.

career ambassador program model

​Step 1 – Obtain Executive Support

For any initiative that will involve resources from across the organization, it is always advisable to start with obtaining support and buy-in from your executive team.  One approach to doing so is to present the business case and the cost and benefits to the organization for implementing a Career Ambassador Program (CAP). Also, consider seeking an Executive Sponsor as a key role to champion the program. An Executive Sponsor can be a great resource for socializing the program with senior level management and integrating the program with related strategic initiatives. When obtaining executive support, a few important points that can be emphasized are:

  • State Leadership Accountability Act (SLAA): Recruitment is a common challenge identified throughout many state organizations SLAA reports even though not all organizations have the ability to allocate resources for recruitment efforts. Maximize resources by utilizing internal employees given they are familiar with your organization and their subject matter area. To find out if your organization's SLAA report indicates recruitment challenges, visit the SLAA webpage.
  • Strategic Alignment: Recruitment efforts should ultimately align to your strategic plan and workforce plan. Ensuring top talent is being recruited supports having the right people with the right skills in the right jobs at the right time, which then helps your organization meet its strategic goals. If your organization doesn't have a current workforce plan, CalHR provides a variety of online Workforce Planning tools and resources, consultative support, as well as a workshop training program to assist with the development of a completed workforce plan.
  • Vacancy Rates: Classifications with high vacancy rates may signal an increased need for focused recruitment efforts. Work with your Human Resources office to gather vacancy data by classification. For classifications with high vacancy rates, survey the program area to determine probable causes. Employees in program areas with high vacancy rates can make great Career Ambassadors given their knowledge and expertise.
  • Low Cost: Outsourcing a third-party recruiter can be costly versus utilizing internal employees. Determine and share the cost of outsourcing and implementing a CAP with executives.
  • Employee Engagement: Organizations with employees who are highly engaged in their work show high levels of productivity and better retention rates. Allowing and supporting employees to participate in a CAP can increase employee engagement within your organization. If your organization is interested in improving workforce engagement, CalHR offers Employee Engagement survey administration, results and recommendations, and action planning tools and resources.

Maintain executive support by regularly providing communication about the program's progress, small and large accomplishments, and impacts to your organization.

​Step 2 – Align with Strategic Recruitment

 A Career Ambassador Program (CAP) should align with your organization's strategic recruitment goals and help address already known hard-to-recruit classifications. Also, key performance indicators (KPIs) should be developed to ensure the program has meaningful metrics to achieve and sustain success. A strategic recruitment plan isn't, however, necessary for a CAP to be implemented effectively.  Please see the below for what to do regardless of if your organization does or does not have a recruitment plan.

Recruitment Plan in Place

If your organization has a current and complete recruitment plan, identify what are critical outreach events to attend. Based on those events, consider the staffing needs required in order to ensure the appropriate Career Ambassador representation. For example, if it is identified in your recruitment plan to attend an outreach event related to Information Technology, staff the event with a Career Ambassador who is an Information Technology subject matter expert. Subject matter experts have the capability of answering technical questions related to their respective occupation. Also, Career Ambassadors don’t necessarily have to attend events geared towards the technical aspects of their occupation. If it is identified in your recruitment plan that your organization is attending a focused recruitment event based on a certain demographic, this would be a great opportunity for Career Ambassadors who can relate. Ensure to equip the Career Ambassador with the knowledge and tools to successfully inform job seekers on state careers, the state hiring process, and why state government is an employer of choice. See Step 5 – Attend Events for more information on the preparation activities of attending recruitment events.

No Recruitment Plan in Place

If recruitment planning has not been completed, you can begin the process by identifying your organization's vacancy rates, hard-to-recruit classifications, mission critical classifications, at-risk classifications, underutilized demographics, and obtaining input from program areas through interviews or surveys to determine what outreach events are considered essential. Outreach events should ultimately support recruiting top talent in order for your organization to meet its strategic goals.

CAP Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Develop KPIs by gathering and establishing the following recruitment benchmark data for hard-to-recruit classifications. Once benchmark data is established, compare it to after implementing a CAP to potentially discover positive impacts of the program in addressing hard-to-recruit classifications. See Step 6 – Monitor Key Performance Indicators for more information on how you can measure CAP success.

  • Number of received applications and/or the percentage of applications that meet the hiring manager's application screening criteria
  • Vacancy rate
  • Cost-per-hire
  • Employee engagement
  • Social media activity
  • Recruitment feedback

​Step 3 – Implement Communication Plan 

Effective communication is an integral part of change management and will be instrumental in ensuring the Career Ambassador Program (CAP) is implemented successfully. Given that a CAP may affect your entire organization, it is valuable to develop a formal communication plan that will introduce and gain support for the program.  Consider including the following:

  • Target Audience – Who is your audience?  Do you have more than one audience? What level(s) are they?
  • Communication Channel – Will you have a marketing strategy to identify how program information will be delivered? For example, face-to-face meetings, presentations at managers' meetings and all staff meetings, internal memos, internal intranet, email, bulletin boards, voicemail announcements, informational sessions, etc.
  • Key Messages – What are the main points you want to communicate to your target audience?  If you have multiple audiences, how should the main points differ?
  • Deliverables – What tasks need to be completed?
  • Responsible Party – Who is the responsible party for each task?
  • Due Date – When do tasks need to be completed?
  • Effectiveness – How are you going to measure the success of your communication efforts?

Your communication plan's key messages should address main points of the program. An important main point to include is that training for Career Ambassadors will be provided upon selection. At the time you are developing your CAP's communication plan, also consider developing a training plan for Career Ambassadors to ensure they are well-equipped and successful when attending outreach events.  See Step 4 – Solicit Ambassadors for a variety of outreach topics for your CAP's training plan.

When communicating about your CAP, your audiences will be executive staff, managers and supervisors, and all staff at minimum.  Depending on what your organization's strategic recruitment goals are, you may have smaller sub-audiences within the larger groups based on subject matter expertise and/or occupational specialty. A best practice communication strategy is communicating to your various audiences in a sequential order that will be most effective. For the purposes of a CAP, start with gaining support from executives first, then managers and supervisors, followed by all staff.

Key messages to executive staff should include:

  • Overview of the program
  • Justification for implementing the program
  • Low costs to the organization
  • Benefits to the organization
  • Encourage staff to participate

Key messages to managers and supervisors include:

  • Overview of the program
  • Who can participate
  • How employees can participate
  • Why leaders should encourage employees to participate
  • How leaders can be supportive of employees who want to participate
  • Where to go for information/resources

Key messages to all staff include:

  • Overview of the program
  • Who can participate
  • How employees can participate
  • Why employees should participate
  • Where to go for information/resources

​Step 4 – Solicit Ambassadors

As part of your communication plan from Step 3, develop a marketing strategy to solicit management and staff participation in ongoing and future recruitment opportunities by encouraging them to participate in your organization's CAP. A strong marketing campaign with pertinent information as to what role they will play and what their responsibilities will be is the key to a successful rollout of the program.  Determine how you are going to train your Career Ambassadors to set them and your CAP up for success.

Below are some points to consider when customizing your marketing messages to managers and employees to encourage them to become Career Ambassadors for your organization.

Develop your marketing campaign and decide what to include in your messaging:

  • When developing a marketing campaign ensure you are attracting managers and employees to participate in the program. Key messaging should cover any frequently asked questions that may arise. Encourage participation in the program by promoting that CAP activities are a fun and exciting way to expand an organization's outreach scope.
  • Key points to cover in your marketing strategy may include:
    • Marketing to employees the personal benefits of participating in the program (i.e. employee engagement, work experience that looks good on a resume, and making a difference at your organization).
    • Strong appeal to Subject Matter Experts from mission critical classifications to participate so that they can help attract the most qualified applicants to your organization.
      • If they may be partnered with a Human Resources representative who can explain the civil service hiring process, make sure they know their role may be limited to what it's like to work in their particular area of the organization.
    • Training on the state hiring process and how to conduct outreach may be provided to all program participants. 
      • This will be especially important if your organization isn't able to partner your Career Ambassadors with a Human Resources representative who can explain the civil service hiring process and navigate the Cal Careers website.
    • Recruiting the next generation of employees is vital to the organization and the state as a whole.
    • Outreach related to this program is done on state time and not on employee's personal time.
    • Per Diem and travel expenses will be paid by the employer.
    • Participation in CAP supports the organization's mission and goals.
    • Time away from the office is minimal for employees participating in CAP.
    • Employee participation in CAP is subject to supervisor's approval.
    • Encouragement for Managers to allow their employees to participate as a way to positively influence future candidate pools.

Deliver your key messages effectively:

  • Develop recruitment collateral to announce your organization's CAP. Ensure information in the collateral contains why this recruitment program is important to the employee, the management team, and the organization. Collateral may include a:
    • Memo from your organization's director, executive sponsor, or Human Resources manager to employees and/or their managers highlighting the importance of participation in the program.
    • Email from an employee's division chief and/or manager encouraging employees to be a part of CAP.
    • Flyer or marketing brochure to announce and promote your organization's CAP.
    • Webpage on your organization's intranet providing information about CAP and encouraging employees to participate.

Raise awareness and promote your program post-launch:

  • Bring awareness to your organization's CAP by ensuring you are communicating the importance of this program through numerous departmental communication channels. See Step 3 – Implement a Communication Plan for more information on how to successfully communicate CAP within your organization.

  • Once you have launched your organization's CAP, ask your Career Ambassadors for quotes that you may use in continued marketing efforts, and consider taking pictures at outreach
    • Be sure to obtain written permission from your employees to use images they appear in before using them for marketing.

Develop selection criteria for participation in your CAP:

  • The goal of defining the selection criteria for Career Ambassadors is to set clear expectations. A robust selection process is a vital part of any good recruitment process. Tailor your organization's selection criteria based on your recruitment goals. Work with your Human Resources team to determine the appropriate selection criteria for participants and identify who in the organization it would be most appropriate to make any selection determinations.  Some possible selection criteria to consider are that employees be in good standing and secure their supervisors' approval prior to asking to participate.
  • Develop a survey that solicits employee participation in the CAP. Survey results will assist your organization in matching employees with focused recruitment events. An example survey has been provided. To assist your organization with matching Career Ambassadors to focused recruitment events, survey questions should gather the following information:
    • Employee's name
    • Classification and working title
    • University or college attended
    • Degree and concentration information
    • Clubs, organizations, and professional societies the employee is associated with
    • Specific demographic group(s) on which the employee is interested in focusing (i.e. veterans, persons with disabilities, women, ethnicities, occupation-specific, geographical region, educational institutions, etc.)

Create tracking methodology for Career Ambassadors:

  • From the survey results, develop a spreadsheet that tracks employees interested in serving as Career Ambassadors. Your CAP Program Owner can then reference this spreadsheet when seeking the appropriate Career Ambassadors to assist with focused recruitment events. Customize your spreadsheet headers to coincide with the questions on the interest survey referenced in the bullet above.

In tandem with your marketing efforts and to continue your efforts to build awareness about your CAP, determine how you will train your Career Ambassadors.

To ensure your organization's Career Ambassadors are effective in outreach efforts and are confident in the information and message they are charged with delivering, offer training for them to set them up for success. Consider whether the scope of your CAP may be best suited by offering training on an annual, bi-annual, or as needed basis.  If Career Ambassadors are partnered with Human Resources representatives at outreach events, formal training may not be needed. Your organization's training may include:

  • Understanding the state hiring process
  • Unique selling points of the organization and the State of California as an employer of choice
  • Career opportunities at your organization
  • Role of Career Ambassador

Understanding the State hiring process

Information regarding the State hiring process training may include:

  • The three step process for obtaining a state job – search for career opportunities, take an assessment, and apply for vacancies
  • How to navigate the CalCareers website, how to set up an account and complete an application
  • Understanding the difference between an assessment bulletin and a job announcement
  • Veterans Preference – who is eligible and how does it work
  • Limited Examination and Appointment Program (LEAP) - alternate testing method for persons with a disability
  • Tailoring a state application to the vacancy announcement and duty statement
  • Online tutorial videos showing commonly used features on CalCareers website
  • Frequently asked questions about the state hiring process

CalHR's "How to Begin Your State Career" presentation covers all of the information above, and can be customized to fit your organization's needs.

Unique Selling Points of your Organization and State Government

In addition to marketing the attributes that make the State of California an employer of choice, your organization should also consider the unique selling points that make it an attractive place to work. Furthermore, the state has key attributes that make it the premier employer. Below are examples of unique selling points Career Ambassadors can discuss when informing job seekers about career opportunities at their organization and with the state.

Consider which of the following to include for your organization:

  • Mission statement, Vision Statement, and Core Values
    • Every state organization has an incredibly compelling mission that can be a very effective recruitment tool
    • The organization's Vision Statement and Core Values can be very useful in describing the organizational culture
  • Free parking, or parking available nearby
  • Close to public transportation, local eateries, and/or city landmark (parks, arena, river, etc.)
  • Onsite cafeteria, gym, and/or daycare
  • Flexible working hours (alternate work week schedules, flex time, telecommute, etc.)
  • Career advancement opportunities and/or other learning opportunities (mentoring, job shadowing, or job rotation programs)
  • Organizational commitment to professional development (training, possible reimbursement for job-related education)
    Example Unique Selling Points for the State of California:
  • Health, dental and vision benefits
  • CalPERS retirement
  • 401(k) and 457(b) optional savings plans
  • Accrue leave benefits (sick, vacation, annual, personal development days, and holidays)
  • Purposeful work
  • Work-life balance
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Career Opportunities

Ensure you provide your Career Ambassadors with classifications they should promote at recruitment events. Information about salary, minimum qualifications, career ladders, and current vacancies is important for your Career Ambassadors to have when conducting outreach.  To determine which classifications your organization may want to concentrate on, consider occupational groups that are difficult to find strong candidates for, the areas of your organization you may be expending higher level of resources to source candidates for, or classifications in which your organization seeks to increase its diversity.  Work closely with your Human Resources team to ensure your recruitment efforts align with your organizational data.  For additional information, please see the following reports on the CalHR website:

Census of Employees

Women's Earnings in State Civil Service

Departmental Civil Service Demographic Statistical Reports

Statewide Civil Service Demographic Statistical Reports

For an example of a very comprehensive Career Ambassador training, please see SMUD's Career Ambassador Toolkit. This toolkit provides SMUD's Career Ambassadors with everything they need to know to effectively represent SMUD at a variety of educational institutions. Another resource available to you is the Institute for Local Government.  Their online resources provide information on how to connect with the next generation of employees and how to engage youth about careers in public service.

Step 5 – Attend Events 

Identify focused recruitment events that align with your goals in Step 2 – Align with Strategic Recruitment. Events may be specific to universities and colleges, occupation/trade groups, veterans, persons with disabilities, and underserved communities. Universities and colleges often post information about their upcoming on-campus recruitment events on their career center webpages. CalHR's Online Forum provides an ongoing calendar of recruitment events. We encourage organizations to add events they will attend to the recruitment events calendar. To register for the Online Forum, contact the CalHR Statewide Recruitment Unit. In addition to general internet searches for events targeting specific demographics (i.e., Veterans), or occupational fields (i.e., Information Technology) consider also visiting these websites to locate recruitment events:

Maximize the return on investment for your outreach resources by selecting outreach events based  on your strategic recruitment goals:

  • Select outreach events based on the needs and resources of your organization.
  • Select Career Ambassadors to attend events based on the interest areas they indicated as part of the CAP survey your organization administered. Match Career Ambassadors based on their interests. For example, consider having:
    • Employees who graduated from a university attend events at their alma mater.
    • Veterans attend events targeting members of the Armed Forces.
    • Women Highway Patrol Officers attend Women Empowerment outreach events.
    • Subject Matter Experts attend outreach events targeting occupation-specific professionals.

Make your outreach resources go even farther by forming partnerships with other state organizations:

Consider a shared recruitment approach with other state organizations when selecting outreach events. Explore partnerships with state organizations that have similar recruitment needs and challenges and to maximize recruitment efforts. Benefits of partnering with other organizations may include:

  • Cost-savings for you and other organizations
  • Maximally efficient use of state resources 
  • Collaborating with others provides knowledge-sharing opportunities

Determine what resources and supplies your will provide your Career Ambassadors when they attend outreach events:

  • Before an event, your organization's CAP Program Owner should provide Career Ambassadors with all of the tools they will need to be successful. Deliver outreach collateral to Career Ambassadors at least one or two days prior to each event. Materials may include:
    • Information about the target audience in attendance (career field, degree concentration, demographic[s], etc.)
    • Number of anticipated attendees
    • Event start and end time to include early arrival (at least a half-hour before the event for set up)
    • Send a calendar event reminder to Career Ambassadors
    • Map and directions to event
    • Travel and lodging information (if applicable)
    • Instructions/diagram on how to organize the career event table
    • Outreach collateral (job announcements, CalCareers Employer of Choice Recruitment Brochure , and information about your organization)
    • List of frequently asked questions
    • Laptops and/or tablet
    • Wi-Fi/internet connectivity information or wireless modem
    • Event attendee sign in sheet (name and contact information)

A key element to evaluating the effectiveness of your CAP often includes collecting direct feedback from your Career Ambassadors after they attend an event. It's advisable to discuss each event and document the information the Career Ambassador provides.  Not only can this help you measure your KPIs in Step 6, it can also be helpful in determining which events to consider attending again in the future.  Information you should capture includes:

  • Approximate number of attendees at the event in general
  • Number of job seekers the Career Ambassador assisted
  • Whether or not the job seekers at the event a good match for your organization and/or your recruitment goals
  • Feedback on the event (successes, challenges, logistics issues, etc.)

​Step 6 – Monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Measuring KPIs assists your organization with making data-driven decisions. Evaluate the success of your organization's CAP by monitoring the KPIs that were developed in Step 2 – Align with Strategic Recruitment of the model. If possible, use the recruitment data your organization already collects on a routine basis to serve as a benchmark.  That way you'll have a baseline to compare to in order to evaluate the effectiveness of your organization's CAP.  If your organization doesn't already collect recruitment related data, it will still be helpful to begin the routine collection of it so that you can analyze it to determine the impact of your organization's CAP over time.  Assess your KPIs on a regular basis, such as every quarter in order to monitor the impact of your CAP.  Below are example KPIs that may indicate your CAP is successful:

Increase in Applicants Applying for Hard-to-Fill Classifications

One of the easiest metrics to track is the number of applications your organization receives for hard-to-recruit classifications. Utilize the Examination Certification Online System to collect the number of applications you received prior to implementation of CAP. After implementing CAP and attending focused recruitment events, compare the number of received applications for hard-to-recruit classifications and compare to the benchmark data gathered. This data may show an increased trend of received applications based on attending targeted events utilizing Career Ambassadors.

Decrease in Cost-Per-Hire

Also known as the Return on Investment (ROI) Calculator, this tool helps organizations identify the hiring costs for each vacancy. The ROI Calculator allows organizations to see the total cost for each recruitment they advertise. Not only does the ROI Calculator assess the advertisement cost per vacancy, but it also calculates business impact, possible savings, and return on investment. If your cost-per-hire decreases over time this may be an indication that CAP outreach activities are successful. 

Increased Employee Engagement

Administer an employee engagement survey at your organization to measure engagement. If your organization does not have an employee engagement survey, CalHR launched the Statewide Employee Engagement Program which is a service that includes survey administration, results and recommendations, and an action planning tool that may help your organization improve workforce engagement.

Increase in Social Media Activity

Social media is vital to recruitment and outreach activities. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are three of the most popular social media outlets to promote your organization. If your organization has a strong social media presence, ensure you are monitoring the number of “likes”, “retweets”, and “shares” received when posting recruitment related information. An increase in social media activity might indicate increased awareness of your organization and a growing interest in available career opportunities.

Recruitment Feedback Surveys

Consider developing a brief survey for applicants who interview for your vacancies to complete asking "How did you hear about this career opportunity." Ensure your survey questions capture your focused recruitment efforts. Monitor the results of the survey every quarter and compare to benchmark data. If over time survey respondents indicate they heard about career opportunities at your organization through outreach events, this may indicate your CAP is successful, or may provide you with useful data as to how to further refine your focused recruitment efforts.

Contact CalHR's Statewide Recruitment Unit at state.recruit@calhr.ca.gov for assistance, questions, or feedback on the CAP model.

  Updated: 3/21/2018
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