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11 ways government agencies can attract students and recent grads to early career gig roles

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Anita Jobb AvatarAnita Jobb
July 8, 2024

When you think of short-term freelance, contract, or other gig work, you probably are thinking more about roles such as delivering groceries and driving passengers in your car than work that you would do for a government agency. Yet government agencies are some of the largest employers in existence and, as such, often hire gig workers.

The question that arises is how can government agencies best attract those who are interested in gig work. We’ve gathered insights from founders and CEOs, including the importance of paying based on deliverables to emphasizing the freedom inherent in gig work. Here are eleven expert strategies to draw in college and university students, recent graduates, and other candidates who are early in their careers.

  • Pay Based on Deliverables
  • Offer Competitive Compensation
  • Narrate the Gig’s Impact
  • Utilize Social Media Platforms
  • Embrace Remote Work Opportunities
  • Promote Flexibility and Skill Development
  • Highlight Real-World Experience
  • Communicate Competitive Pay and Bonuses
  • Engage with University Career Services
  • Expand Gig Job Listings
  • Emphasize Freedom in Gig Work

Pay Based on Deliverables

I’ve hired many people for side gigs, and I’d say one effective strategy for compensating college students and recent graduates in gig jobs is to pay them based on deliverables rather than hourly rates. This approach provides clear incentives for productivity and allows workers to manage their time more effectively. By being paid per deliverable, freelancers can complete tasks at their own pace, which can be particularly appealing for individuals balancing studies or other commitments. Additionally, introducing a bonus system for exceptional performance or meeting tight deadlines can further motivate gig workers. This dual approach not only rewards efficiency and high-quality work but also fosters a sense of accomplishment and recognition.

David Rubie-Todd, Co-Founder & Marketing Head, Sticker It

Offer Competitive Compensation

Attracting college students and recent graduates for gig jobs in a large governmental agency can be significantly bolstered by offering competitive compensation and appealing benefits. This group values opportunities that not only pay well but also contribute to their long-term career growth. Offering attractive hourly rates or project-based pay that stands out in comparison to typical entry-level or student jobs will instantly catch their attention.

Additionally, providing stipends for professional development courses or certifications relevant to their field of study can be a game-changer. Many students and graduates are keen to continue learning and improving their skills. By sponsoring relevant educational resources, the agency not only supports their professional growth but also showcases a commitment to building a skilled and knowledgeable workforce. This approach creates a win-win scenario where students feel valued beyond just the paycheck and are more likely to engage with and maintain a strong connection to the agency.

Will Yang, Head of Growth & Marketing, Instrumentl

Narrate the Gig’s Impact

One strategy we’ve implemented at eLearning Industry Inc., which could be transformational for governmental agencies looking to attract college students and recent graduates for gig jobs, is leveraging digital storytelling. When we launched a short-term project to engage young freelancers, we crafted our job postings and social media campaigns to narrate not just the ‘what’ but the ‘why’ of the opportunity. We highlighted how these gigs provide a platform for innovation and societal impact, not just a paycheck. This approach resonated deeply with this demographic, leading to a significant uptick in qualified and enthusiastic applicants.

My advice? Go beyond the standard job description. Use storytelling to demonstrate your gigs’ unique opportunities for real-world impact and professional development. Show how these roles contribute to larger goals and offer a sense of purpose. This resonates with young professionals looking to make a difference, not just earn. Coupling this narrative with flexible, project-based roles can make governmental gig opportunities highly attractive to the emerging workforce.

Christopher Pappas, Founder, eLearning Industry Inc

Utilize Social Media Platforms

As a large governmental agency looking to attract college students for gig work, think in terms of channel and message. Gen Z is predominantly on TikTok and social media, so having a strong presence there is crucial. For messaging, tap into their psychology and values. For instance, a recent viral video highlighted the idea of “descending the corporate ladder,” emphasizing the importance of work-life balance and the rejection of hustle culture. This generation values authenticity and meaningful work, so highlighting how gig jobs can provide flexible schedules, opportunities to learn new skills, and the ability to contribute to important projects can make your positions more appealing. By aligning your messaging with these values and being present on the platforms they use, you can resonate more effectively with this generation.

Vivian Chen, Founder & CEO, Rise

Embrace Remote Work Opportunities

In today’s fast-paced world, the concept of traditional 9-5 jobs is slowly becoming obsolete. College students and recent graduates are increasingly seeking flexible work arrangements that allow them to balance their studies, personal commitments, and professional development. As a large governmental agency looking to attract this pool of talent, it is crucial to embrace remote work opportunities for gig jobs. By doing so, you not only widen your reach in terms of potential candidates but also showcase your adaptability and willingness to cater to the needs of the younger workforce.

Furthermore, with advancements in technology, remote work has become more accessible and efficient than ever before. By offering remote gig jobs, you can tap into a vast pool of qualified and diverse candidates from different geographical locations, providing your agency with a competitive edge in the job market. Additionally, remote work also eliminates the barrier of commuting for college students and recent graduates who may not have reliable transportation or live far from your agency’s location. This level of convenience can be a significant factor in attracting top talent to your agency for gig jobs.

Brandon Beatty, Real Estate Investor, Ready House Buyer

Promote Flexibility and Skill Development

To attract college students and recent graduates for gig jobs, emphasize flexibility and skill development. Create a platform that allows students to pick up short-term projects aligned with their academic schedules and career interests. Highlight how these gigs can provide real-world experience in government operations and finance, complementing their studies. Offer micro-credentials or certificates for completed projects, which students can add to their resumes. For instance, at Ready Adjuster, we’ve implemented a similar program for part-time insurance claim analysts, allowing students to work on actual cases while balancing their studies. This approach has not only attracted top talent but also created a pipeline for full-time positions post-graduation.

Alex Adekola, CEO, ReadyAdjuster

Highlight Real-World Experience

Emphasizing the opportunity for real-world experience in gig jobs can attract college students and recent graduates. Many young professionals are eager to apply their academic knowledge in practical settings. By highlighting how gig roles can provide hands-on experience and develop essential skills, you can make these jobs more appealing.

Offering testimonials from current or former gig workers who have successfully transitioned to full-time roles can also be persuasive. This approach shows that gig jobs are not just temporary work but valuable stepping-stones in their career journey.

Jonathan Feniak, General Counsel, LLC Attorney

Communicate Competitive Pay and Bonuses

One piece of advice I would give is to highlight the competitive compensation and benefits of gig jobs. College students and recent graduates are often looking for ways to earn money quickly and efficiently. By offering competitive pay rates and clearly communicating the potential earnings, you can attract their attention. Additionally, offering bonuses or incentives for high performance can make these roles even more appealing.

Alan Parkes, Owner, Roofcorp

Engage with University Career Services

Engaging with university career services can be an effective way to reach college students and recent graduates. Partnering with career centers to host job fairs, workshops, and informational sessions can increase awareness of your gig opportunities. Providing resources and support for career counselors to promote your roles can also be beneficial. Establishing a strong presence on campus and building relationships with career services can help you connect with a large pool of potential candidates.

Jeffrey Zhou, CEO & Founder, Fig Loans

Expand Gig Job Listings

Consider placing the gig-job listing on more platforms, such as specialized gig-work platforms. If the job is only displayed on a message board at the agency’s HQ or available through a few temp agencies, many potential gig workers might not know it’s available.

Eric Novinson, Founder, This Is Accounting Automation

Emphasize Freedom in Gig Work

One piece of advice I would give to a large governmental agency to attract college students and recent graduates for gig jobs is to focus on the freedom that a gig job provides. Most people looking for these kinds of jobs have freedom at the top of their values list. Many companies try to cater to these people but often forget that this group is willing to make less money to have more freedom; emphasize this, and there will be no challenge in attracting this group of people.

Sebastian Jania, CEO, Ontario Property Buyers

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