With retirements looming, this county innovator is revamping hiring process

November 10, 2021

Name: Nidhi Singh Rathore

Title: Civic Design Lead

Locality: Montgomery County, Md.

For Nidhi Singh Rathore, a passion for innovation has taken her from one side of the country to the other.

Rathore, formerly a member of the i-Team in Los Angeles since 2018, came to Montgomery County, Md., earlier this year to lead a smaller, newer design team toward the goal of achieving the same level of success she and her former colleagues saw on the West Coast.

Rathore said the move—prompted by her desire to work in a different government setting and challenge herself to not become complacent—was greatly eased by the shared language and common core concepts that innovation teams all over the world share. “If I was a designer coming to Montgomery County from another sector, it would be much more difficult,” Rathore says. “But all of us who do this work share an understanding of how similar challenges are being faced in cities around the country. I also came here with connections to teams all over the country, so I feel like I’m able to keep growing the family of civic designers.”

The initial focus for Rathore in her new job has been looking for ways to reduce the administrative roadblocks in Montgomery County’s hiring processes while also increasing opportunities for applicants of color. And this is no academic exercise: Just over 50 percent of county employees will be eligible to retire over the next five years.

Using her experience in Los Angeles as a guide as well as a journey mapping exercise of Montgomery County’s hiring process, Rathore began to look at the language being used in job postings. “Some of the language in our job ads can be really cumbersome to read and you might not be able to access it on a mobile phone. We’ve been looking into what equity means in terms of understanding the language and also technology equity,” she says.

Mathore and her team quickly came up with a template for inclusive language in job ads that was shared with department hiring managers and recruiters. Moving forward, she’ll be doing a deeper dive into how to tackle bureaucratic burdens. A constant for the entire process is trying to find manageable pieces to analyze and improve and then expand to larger systems.

“One of our team's values is starting small and scaling up,” Mathore says. “We are starting somewhere small and encouraging people to just start and take a leap of faith.”

Pro Tip: “As a creative individual, I believe that you have to sometimes break out of your bubble and comfort zone to just make sure that you are not being complacent in what you're working on."