Hiring to Reflect the Community You Serve: How to Overcome Employment Barriers

Session Type:  Speed Session (20 miniutes)

Track: Career Development 

The traditional hiring practices in a civil service system are flawed and contain numerous barriers to employing a workforce that is reflective of the citizens we serve. In an effort to combat this imperfect system, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation used a project-based approach to flip the narrative in recruiting and hiring entry-level recreation leaders. The new system consists of a predetermined timeline, targeted recruitment, community-based information sessions and a total rethinking of the civil service exam and how it is scored. The changes resulted in our most diverse civil service list to date. This speed session will quickly walk participants through the process, to show other agencies how they can implement a similar process to ensure a representative workforce.


Learning Outcomes:

Identify common barriers that applicants encounter when applying for a civil-service position.



Kathryn Ott Lovell

Commissioner, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation

Kathryn Ott Lovell was appointed as commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation by Mayor Jim Kenney in January 2016. In this position, Ott Lovell oversees 700 full-time employees, more than 2,700 part-time and seasonal employees, more than 10,200 acres of land, 500 buildings, 166 miles of trail, 250 playgrounds, and thousands of programs and events throughout Philadelphia's parks and recreation system.

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