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Erie Fire department broadens applicant pool to increase diversity & equal opportunity

Erie, PA, USA
In Collaboration With
City of Erie

Government Champion

Fire Department

Cost

Initial:
2 Thousand USD
Maintenance:
2 Thousand USD

Project Status

Operational since 2021

At a Glance

The city of Erie wanted to grow its application pool for its Fire Department job listing, while increasing efficiency and transparency. They were looking to gather a diverse group of candidates with an emphasis on inclusivity and security.

Problem Addressed

Like many local governments, the City of Erie, PA was looking for ways to increase the size, quality, and diversity of their applicant pool for Firefighter positions. Mayor Joe Schember put a strong emphasis on being open, honest, transparent, and accessible throughout the application process. With this in mind, the city was looking for a solution that gave everyone an equal opportunity to apply while keeping their personal information safe and secure.

Previously, the application was only available to those who could visit Erie City Hall and apply with paper forms in person, restricting the applicant pool to those that lived close to the city’s center.

The City of Erie, PA used/is using online job applications via CityGrows to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

The city of Erie decided to use Citygrows workflow automation platform to simplify and expand their job application process.

The City of Erie decided to solely offer a digital application housed on the CityGrows platform. This allowed applicants to apply at any time from a desktop computer or phone. Applicants can start, pause, and resume the same application, which came in handy given all the documentation and information required.

For the few people who might not have internet/computer access, the City of Erie set up a computer station in City Hall dedicated to applicants for the Firefighter positions. The station was located in Human Resources, so if the applicant had questions along the way, they could get them answered immediately.

To address data security, the city had to evaluate when/ how they collect sensitive information. Previously, Social Security Numbers (SSN) were part of the initial application, but now the City waits to collect SSN until later in the process, as part of a background check, minimizing the risk that sensitive data is collected from people who won’t end up completing the application process. When someone starts the application, they create a login and password. Their info is securely saved to their account, and the only people who can see their responses are the applicant and the city official reviewing the application.

After submitting the application, applicants can track its progress, ensuring transparency between the city and the applicant. They also have the opportunity to directly communicate with the reviewer via the discussion feature.

To streamline the review process, CityGrows tested and revised the application with city officials before launch. The HR team, fire department staff, and mayor’s office all grew comfortable with the “smart” dashboard to ensure an efficient and smooth review process.

Outcomes

  1. A 30% increase in application quantity, and $8000 in revenue from charging a nominal application fee.
  2. A more efficient, streamlined process for application review
  3. An increase in the diversity of applicants as a result of online applications reaching a broader audience
  4. Increased convenience and transparency for applicants with 24/7 access to the application and discussion feature
  5. More security in the application process, keeping applicants SSN and account information safe

Who Should Consider?

Any government seeking to increase the size, quality, and diversity of the applicant pool for public safety hires, while reducing administrative impact and costs of processing applicants.

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