It seems like everybody’s got a new idea for attracting new talent to the federal government these days. But Jim McDermott, chief human capital officer of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, thinks he’s found a foolproof way to convince young engineers to come to his agency: Find them dates.
“There are incentives, and then there are incentives,” McDermott told a crowd of human resources officials at the HCMF Conference in Arlington, Va., earlier today. “When we’re hiring, we say, ‘Is there a significant other in the picture?’ If there’s no significant other, I tell them, ‘We can help.’ ”
McDermott said his unorthodox recruitment pitch works because while nuclear engineers may know how to split atoms, they’re not quite so adept on the dating front:
“Now, engineers study a lot in college,” McDermott said. “They neglect very important extracurricular activities. My girls went to school with engineers, [and]they said, ‘Dad, they don’t know how to dance, they don’t know how to dress, they don’t even know how to talk.’ ”
Engineers may not necessarily become better dancers by taking a job at NRC, but McDermott said they can meet other single engineers (who probably won’t roll their eyes at Star Trek or lectures on reactor cooling systems). McDermott said NRC’s dating scheme — which he jokingly called “NRC Harmony,” after the eHarmony online dating service — has so far resulted in about eight or nine weddings.
McDermott’s comments made me think of the sitcom Big Bang Theory, which features hopelessly nerdy theoretical physicists and their often-failed efforts to find romance. McDermott said he’s seen bits of the show, which hit close to home: “I thought I was watching something on the NRC.”