Magazine article Corrections Forum

The Professional Imperative: Staff Recruitment & Retention

Magazine article Corrections Forum

The Professional Imperative: Staff Recruitment & Retention

Article excerpt

PROfessional staff recruitment and retention is a continuing effort in any industry. It is especially critical in the correctional industry, because many people do not seem to realize or acknowledge the wide variety of career opportunities within that field, so recruitment and retention efforts have to be more focused and more intense in order to draw applicants.

Recruitment efforts are statewide for each DOC, and many governments reach out to citizens in at least two languages, in order to appeal across cultures. They also advertise job openings and career opportunities in a variety of media, from print to radio to Internet. City and school job fairs are also prime opportunities for recruitment and sharing information about what it's like to work in corrections.

The New York Department of Correctional Services (DOCS), for example, employs a host of approaches to recruit staff to compete in the Civil Service examination process, including advertising in both English and Spanish newspapers and radio stations, in professional publications and journals, on cable TV job posting boards, in mailings to colleges, in churches and New York State Thruway rest areas, through Internet postings, and physical appearances at colleges and various community events and through grass roots efforts at the correctional facility level.

The NY DOCS even more so than other departments has to keep on its toes to maintain its workforce. Its 29,940 full-time equivalent employees staff 67 correctional facilities, one drug treatment campus and central office.

Across the Hudson, New Jersey DOC also takes an active role.

"In an effort to recruit quality staff, we participate in college and university job and career presentations," explains Deirdre Fedkenheuer, public information officer. Also, as National Guard Troops return from deployments, NJ. DOC participates in programs put together by the Veterans Administration. "Both of these efforts give exposure to our agency, which offers a variety of career fields," she says.

Fedkenheuer explains that NJ. DOC, which has 9,600 employees staffing 12 correctional facilities, has made an effort to get the word out that corrections is a unique career opportunity for dedicated professionals. Beyond recruiting to adults, the DOC has made a point to let the younger generation know about jobs available in the correctional field.

"Recently we made a presentation at Central High School in Newark [N.J.]. The students are enrolled in a program that encourages them to study in an area of interest. We hope that the presentation gave the students a better understanding of the Department of Corrections and piqued an interest in the field," she says.

Employment Agency

Some states, like Florida, accept applications only through an employment agency. This serves to publicize available job positions to those who are unemployed and actively searching for work or, better yet, a career.

Florida Department of Corrections uses agency People First to recruit staff. All state agencies post vacancies on People First, which serves as a state employment job bank. Anyone looking for a state job in Florida has to apply through People First, notes Greti Plessinger, director of communications.

Florida DC hires employees directly - they are not hired on a temporary basis through People First, but rather, hired on as departmental employees from the start. Florida DC employs 28,000 people to staff 146 correctional facilities statewide. People First just collects the job applications and then forwards them to the agency.

New employees are hired on a temporary basis until they pass their certification, which can take more than a year. In Florida, corrections employees have to be certified correctional officers, and are certified through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It takes a year to pass certification, because new employees must take several law enforcement classes and pass a test. …

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