Biden Team Tries Recruiting Tech Workers Through Source Code

President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. on Dec. 9, 2020.

President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. on Dec. 9, 2020. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

 

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If you find the hidden message, you might be someone the incoming administration wants to hire.

The incoming Biden-Harris administration is hiding job opportunities in unlikely places in the hopes of finding unique tech talent to recruit to the U.S. Digital Service.

Since USDS was founded in 2014, the group has been on a never-ending quest to recruit more tech talent into the federal government. The team—based out of the Office of Management and Budget—reports directly to the White House and is staffed with IT experts from the private sector doing brief tours in government.

When a federal agency has a big IT project gone wrong, they can tap USDS expertise to help get the program back on track, as was the case with Healthcare.gov, the tech problem that started it all. The administration-elect has made technology—and USDS—a priority in the transition, including behind the scenes of its own website.

When looking at the source code for the transition site, users noticed a message directed at the tech-literate:

“<!-- If you're reading this, we need your help building back better. https://usds.gov/apply -->”

While the message is embedded in the code that determines how the site is presented on the frontend, the message itself is only visible to those looking behind the scenes. That curiosity and technical knowledge are exactly what the next administration is looking for.

“This strategy is one way we are encouraging non-traditional candidates to apply for jobs in the administration,” a transition spokesperson told Nextgov. The spokesperson did not elaborate when asked about other non-traditional efforts to reach potential IT job applicants.

The transition team is stacked with former USDS employees and, in a first, includes a landing team specifically for that office.

“Technology is a top priority of the Biden-Harris administration,” the spokesperson said. “Building from the campaign’s efforts, the Biden-Harris transition has continued proactive measures to recruit experts in various fields across government.”

While embedding a job opportunity in a webpage is an interesting tactic, people on Twitter noted it’s not the first time a federal agency has tried to recruit through source code.

In 2012, the fledgling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau embedded a call for IT applicants in its webpage, according to The Atlantic. The current version of the website does not appear to contain any secret messages.

While the transition team starts recruiting on behalf of USDS, the agency does not have any hidden job application easter eggs on its site—the “apply now” button is big and visible on the homepage and every landing page.

But that doesn’t mean the team isn’t having fun with their source code, too.

Aaron Boyd is a senior editor at Nextgov.

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