SPD hiring bonuses debate sparks overhaul to how City of Seattle recruits talent

Apr 12, 2022, 2:30 PM


(Tiffany Von Arnim via flickr)

(Tiffany Von Arnim via flickr)

The city of Seattle has identified 14 different trades and professions with the city that consistently struggle to field qualified applicants.

That problem is most visible with the Seattle Police Department. The Seattle City Council is currently considering how to address public safety needs with a police department that last reported losing 10 officers in March bringing total separations this year to 43. That leaves deployable staff at just 888, whereas SPD claims that it needs between 1,400 and 1,500 deployable officers to be at full capacity, as the Seattle Police Officers guild told KTTH.

As Seattle continues to lose police, new report finds mixed results for hiring bonus program

But SPD hasn’t been the only department with recent staffing troubles. Trades ranging from carpentry to electrician inspections were deemed “critical to city business needs” and “challenging to fill,” according to a survey audit conducted by the Seattle Department of Human Resources (SDHR).

That has prompted the Seattle City Council to rethink how they approach the hiring process and attract professional candidates.

The crux of the problem is the city’s classification compensation program. Those specifications have not been updated since 1990, and that outdated classification model largely prevents equivalent experience to be factored in when a candidate does not possess the listed experience for a position. For example, if an accountant has been with the city for 20 years, it’s difficult for them to transfer into a senior accounting position if they do not have the requisite college credit requirements.

“We’ve had employees get kind of stuck in those types of positions and unfortunately they’re unable to advance their career, which really impacts departments to … be able to see those promotions,” Keith Gulley, director with SDHR, said Tuesday.

Essentially, the idea is to attract more candidates for entry-level skilled trades when transferable skills and lived experience can be substituted for traditional education requirements.

“If you stick around with maybe 20 or 30 classifications that are critical roles, and we’re not seeing the talent come through and the challenges of recruiting,” Gulley added.

MyNorthwest News

Photo: Detectives are investigating a Seattle drive-by shooting that happened early Saturday mornin...

Julia Dallas

Seattle police: Woman shot in both hands in early morning drive-by shooting

Detectives are investigating a Seattle drive-by shooting that happened early Saturday morning. A woman was shot in her hands.

10 hours ago

Photo: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the 75th anniversary of NATO at the Andrew W. Mellon...

MyNorthwest and KIRO Newsradio staff

‘Bring it on:’ Washington officials react to Biden dropping out of the race

Washington officials have reacted to President Joe Biden dropping out of the 2024 presidential election.

16 hours ago

I-5 pedestrian killed...

Bill Kaczaraba

Man killed in hit-and-run on Interstate 5 in Seattle

The Washington State Patrol is in the process of gathering further details about a traffic incident on Interstate-5that left one man dead.

2 days ago

Tegu Tazz...


Granite Falls alligator turns out to be escaped pet tegu named ‘Tazz’

Reports of a 10-foot alligator have turned out to be an “incredibly docile and friendly” pet tegu by the name of Tazz.

2 days ago

Apartment fire in Sotuh Lake Union. (via KIRO 7)...

Bill Kaczaraba

South Lake Union apartment fire contained, 2 may be injured

An apartment fire in South Lake Union has been contained, but two people may have been injured.. The fire was in the 320 block of 7th Ave N but units remain in the area. Authorities are asking you to avoid the area. Firefighters are on scene at a reported fire in an apartment building in […]

2 days ago



How a faulty CrowdStrike update crashed computers around the world

All it took was one faulty CrowdStrike software update to cause global disruptions that grounded flights, and other services.

2 days ago

SPD hiring bonuses debate sparks overhaul to how City of Seattle recruits talent