Competing on purpose

MassDOT Highway Division

The Challenge

A rising need

A rising need

Like many public agencies around the country, MassDOT Highway Division is facing major hurdles in recruiting across the board, but especially in civil engineering. In 2022, the need had become particularly acute, as upcoming federal grants and major construction projects threatened to overtax MassDOT’s human resources. As MassDOT Highway’s AOR, we approached the problem head on. Our objective was to raise the profile of MassDOT as a career option and encourage consideration for open civil engineering positions. Working with MassDOT recruitment leadership, we identified our target audience as adults 18-34 on a civil engineering track, with a primary focus on students and entry-level candidates across Massachusetts and in surrounding states. 

As we dove into research, one thing became clear: in a competitive job marketplace, public sector jobs often don’t have the best reputation for pay, benefits, and opportunities for advancement. MassDOT was already facing challenges keeping their pipeline full, and market conditions indicated the path would only get harder. Additionally, an initial media budget of under $35,000 presented its own difficulties.

Services Provided:

  • Strategy
  • Messaging
  • Creative and Design
  • Advertising
  • UX/UI
  • Digital

The Solution

Focus on the work culture

To better understand MassDOT’s recruitment process, we conducted 13 one-on-one conversations with employees and MassDOT recruiters; we also reviewed market research on engineering candidate priorities; and audited over a dozen recruitment efforts in the field, both locally and internally. 

Our research showed that MassDOT’s culture, which fostered a strong sense of community and a clear affinity to civic responsibility and purpose, was deeply aligned with what engineers and Gen Z workers reported looking for in a job. Current employees also highlighted work-life balance and job stability as a best kept secret. They also had much appreciation for the hands-on work, career growth, and innovative thinking that were part and parcel of the MassDOT career experience.

Armed with this data, and inspired by the stories we heard during the interview process, we developed a creative media campaign highlighting real employees speaking to their success and how they built their own unique career journeys at MassDOT. The campaign also included a new landing page, built within the architecture, that extended the stories and raised the perceived value of working for MassDOT Highway. 

We launched an 8-week initial multi-channel campaign – paid search, Facebook, Instagram, and programmatic display – including video and animated assets targeting our audience demographically, and optimizing in real time.

The Results

A positive impact today and for years to come

Within the initial flight, we had 42M highly targeted impressions, resulting in 33K clicks, 5.8K conversions, and 286 quality applicants that led to multiple hires. MassDOT has continued to use the landing page we developed, our assets, and campaign headlines/copy to further their recruitment efforts, leading to a positive impact on the hiring and recruiting efforts that will live far beyond the lifetime of the campaign.