Want to work for Philadelphia?
Better be willing to wait.
From 2013 to 2015, the median time between application submission and job selection was 360 days. That meant sometimes that people selected for jobs weren't available anymore.
That's just one of the findings from a new Pew Charitable Trusts report about the city's hiring processes, which, city officials told researchers, are "cumbersome, inflexible, and slow." In other words, in an economy where time is money and talent is arguably a business' most valuable asset, the City of Philadelphia's current system is a serious setback, it says.
Other findings include that the city does not have a centralized recruiting office, the way most big cities do, and that hiring managers are only ever able to consider the top two candidates for a position, which is largely based on exam scores. If the hiring manager doesn't want either, it's the lesser of two evils: Wait for the process to restart in two years, or go with one of the candidates.
The Kenney administration says it realizes the city must rethink its hiring processes, and has launched a cross-departmental project, with a $400,000 budget for its first year, that aims to shorten the time it takes to hire, develop tools beyond exams to assess workers, and expand recruiting efforts.
The stakes, Pew researcher Katie Martin said, are high: The more than 30,000 workers the city employs — food inspectors, librarians, firefighters — are the people who make the city run, and three-quarters of them have reached retirement age or will get there in the next 15 years.
Plus, city government is the second-largest employer in Philadelphia, trailing only the federal government.
Many of the practices that have bogged down the hiring process were put in place in 1952 to fight cronyism and patronage, the tradition of handing out jobs based on a person's friends and family. (This battle was recently fought on the state level, too, with Gov. Wolf and Republican legislators on one side, and the Civil Service Commission, which handles much of the hiring for the state, on the other.) The report also cited the city government unions' reluctance to open the final decision beyond two candidates. Bob Coyle, president of city workers union Local 2187 of AFSCME District Council 47, declined to comment until he read the report.
And those who talk about managing unconscious bias in the hiring process say that the more standardized the process, the less chance for bias.