Hard-to-Find White House 'Job Posting' Is Perfectly Placed to Attract Tech Talent

January 26, 2021

Photo of White House

The famed White House Easter egg roll, held annually on the South Lawn, was cancelled last year because of COVID-19. But the new White House team has apparently not given up on Easter eggs, though they’re thinking about them in a very different way.

A digital “Easter egg” was embedded in the software code for the Biden administration’s freshly minted version of the White House website. For sharp-eyed programmers, tech specialists, and anyone else who might have stumbled upon the website source code (as if), there was a surprise job announcement:

“If you’re reading this, we need your help building back better,” says a line in the site’s HTML code.

It’s followed by a link to a job application at the U.S. Digital Service, an agency founded by President Obama in 2014 to improve digital tools used by people who are interacting with the federal government online.

The line was spotted by Isaac Hepworth, a program manager at Microsoft, who tweeted about it shortly after the inauguration last week. And it’s a brilliant example of resourceful recruiters following the proverbial advice to “fish where the fish are.”

Placing your call for applicants in the source code might be a terrible idea if you’re recruiting for bankers or brewers or bean counters. But it’s laser-focused if you’re looking for software engineers and other technology specialists. 

And like the best job ads, it also shines a light on the culture of your organization. This one-liner tells you that this federal agency aspires to be fun, creative, and fast-moving (given that the new website was up and running as President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris were being sworn in).

There are best practices for job postings that everyone can follow: keep them short (though they certainly can be longer than the single line the USDS employed); use inclusive language; focus on the things — compensation, qualifications, and job details — that candidates care most about; and post on Monday (the White House posted, not on the first day of the week, but on the first day of a four-year term).

Beyond those basics, there are any number of ways to make a job posting stand out, including humor, surprise, and compelling graphics. And as the U.S. Digital Service showed: location, location, location.

Their website currently features a prominent note that says they’re “excited to report that we’ve recently received a large number of applications.”

You could reasonably have wondered if the White House “job posting” was too clever — or obscure — for its own good. But given both the volume of applicants and widespread media coverage that this Easter egg elicited, it appears the agency’s recruiting team knew exactly what it was doing.

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*Image from White House Archive