Register for #ELGL22: ELGL's Annual Conference!

Crowdsourced Responses to Management Analyst Recruitment Challenge

Posted on June 13, 2022


Crowdsourced Responses to Management Analyst Recruitment Challenge
In May, ELGL shared an anonymous question from a member organization that was having difficulty hiring for a management analyst position. Below please find the crowd sourced inquiry, and the variety of responses from ELGL members. Names have been removed for anonymity.

Question:

Requesting feedback to assist an ELGL member organization that is having a hard time hiring for analyst roles. Some background:

This is a mid-sized full service community in the outer suburbs of a major urban area. The cost of living is high but not as high as the major city nearby. Thus, the entry level salary range for a management analyst position is around $85,000 to $105,000. The position does not require an MPA or MPP degree but it is ideally suited for a recent MPA or MPP grad. The organization is large enough that there are other analysts in the organization who can learn and connect (so the position isn’t “the only analyst”). Despite these factors, the organization consistently struggles to hire these positions.

Would love to hear from y’all about things that might inform or change the recruitment strategy for this organization (and likely many others). Will compile and share out after we’ve heard from folks.

We also asked the following four questions to our Academic Brain Trust (ELGL members who work for colleges and universities):

  1. What are the top considerations your students/graduates have when looking for a first local government job?
  2. What are some of the projects of responsibilities they most seek in a job post-MPA/MPP degree? 
  3. Is “management analyst” a desirable title? Is there another title that people prefer? 
  4. What makes students/graduates wary or skeptical about a job posting? 

Responses:

  1. What is an analyst? Rhetorical question, but I don’t think it’s well known. The definition and outreach may need to be adjusted. A title change may be necessary.
  2. Can someone live in a relatively safe area at that salary? If not, it’s going to be tough.
  3. The demographic they are looking for is active on Instagram and TikTok. May need some outreach and/or ads there.
  4. Is there a recruitment bonus? Current team members probably know someone(s) in their current network who may be interested.

My own bias saw this as an entry level position for those younger in age and their career.


Are they open to remote or hybrid options? We’ve seen orgs insisting on fully in person roles struggling the most to hire.

Second this. If you can’t find the talent in your market or willing/able to move to your market, cast a wider net!


Here are a few recommendations from my consulting work and research on public-sector hiring processes.

  1. Lean into social media. Organizations who post a mix of direct links to job openings and culture spotlights (such as employee testimonials) see the best results.
  2. Prioritize diverse recruiting. Traditional recruiting methods – like direct networking – are limited in reach. Think outside the box and look for ways to access communities the organization has little historical contact with.

Also as a current MPA student: when I talk to peers looking to work in urban areas, they usually skip over the suburbs. Consider highlighting the connections and proximity between this city and the major city.


We have had some good success in xxxxxx. Our approach is very active recruitment via listserv es, social media and MPA programs telling the story of the position. We focus on our culture and community impact. We also allow our folks to work from home.


One of my contacts is revising all job descriptions to remove perceived barriers (such as the absolute requirement for a specific degree) to allow more applicants the ability to apply. They are moving toward a values based hiring approach rather than a skills based hiring approach.


I’ve found that many MA postings list so many ‘potential’ job responsibilities that it can be hard to know what the actual job entails. It can be helpful to outline what exactly the position is responsible for, and then also include information about the potential for growth! Knowing that an organization is invested in what a candidate can do for them, as well as how they can grow the candidate, is key.


Add some of the less tangible perks to the conversation – flexibility in hours and work location. It can’t hurt to lean into quality of life perks of being adjacent to a large city.


Qualified applicants may also be interested in hearing about opportunities for advancement. Is this an entry-level position? Are there grades for one to advance through? How critical is their scope to the mission of the organization?


I would also echo what others have said about casting a wide net. Use all the tools available and think outside the box with recruitment. The perfect employee may have zero government experience!


Lots of great and very relevant ideas about outreach and communicating the conditions of the job. But what is on the inside of the org?? What is the heart? As a very committed management analyst (working under the title of Internal Auditor) what I care about most is the impact of my work. Will management listen to my recommendations and implement them? Is management willing to work shoulder to shoulder with me and do hard stuff? Do they get it? I just left one job for another, with the exact same pay and benefits, because I think my next agency demonstrates the ability to use my work, therefore I might be able to make an impact. That is what I care about (plus basic conditions like remote work, etc. not pay!!!) What is organization culture of the org that is recruiting? That is what I wonder. Are they just talking about what the position does and not what they will do with the work of the position?


Social media is the best way to recruit and if it’s remote or partially remote please highlight that factor!


I don’t have anything specific to add about analyst positions, but I can tell you that folks ages 18-35 are suffering application burn out and anxiety. I myself applied to over 100 positions, been on 35 interviews, and the thought of applying to anything now creates such debilitating anxiety. I don’t believe the issue is lack of qualified candidates, it’s the hiring systems in place that discredit highly qualified candidates before their application is viewed by a human being.


What is the reputation of the organization? Is it perceived as being both politically and financially stable with supportive professional senior management? What is the temperament of the community? There are quite a few apparently affluent suburban communities that are always angry or virtually against everything. For someone with a solid resume these variables give pause to look elsewhere. I’m guessing there is more here than the standard conversation pertaining to recruiting methods, benefits, and hybrid working relationships


I would review the hiring policies and practices, the truth is that a lot of public sector job processes don’t move fast enough for top talent. I would also consider reviewing the interview questions and panelists. Good talent is interviewing you, are you portraying a culture that they want to be a part of?


Is the organization clear on what this person will be doing? Does it align with the job description?


Has the organization tried asking top applicants why they aren’t accepting the offers? (Or are they being hired, onboarded and leaving quickly?) If they are reluctant to solicit feedback, I think you found your answer. 🙂


Are there colleges or universities nearby with whom the jurisdiction can partner to create pathways for recruitment?


As a “career analyst” (I have worked for various entities as an Administrative Analyst, Administrative Services Officer, Staff Analyst and Management Analyst), I’d suggest the following:

1) use professional service organizations along with social media to advertise the job;

2) advertise through local MPA/MPP programs that the organization is hiring- sometimes there are job boards at the schools;

3) if the organization is seeking someone with experience, make sure they are okay with bringing in someone who may only be there 3-5 years (Nowadays, most people don’t stay long term in jobs and agencies need to recognize there may be some job hopping);

4) highlighting perks in advertising the job is important – working from home, professional development $ via MOU or work, tuition reimbursement (maybe someone is in the middle of their MPA/MPP), and/or even if an MOU has a clause for degree stipend (percentage for your BA/MPA). All of this adds up in pay/time. One Bay area County has negotiated with specific unions that certain positions only need to be in the office 2-3 days a week- those positions can teleworking the rest of the time. Even dress code can matter.


I would wonder if the community has a work from home policy, and also how many years of experience are they asking for for an entry level position? Thinking those things might also play a role in success of hiring.

I would definitely need more details in how the municipality is definitely “analyst”. Are you looking for someone with a background in data, business, both? What BI tools does the municipality use? Tableau, Power BI? Both usually have strong user groups in metro areas.

These positions are in high demand in the private sector as well – heavy recruitment and poaching. Salary is helpful, but there is a resurgence in the data community of wanting to use data for good and impact the communities where they live. Definitely consider putting these kinds of details in the JD.

Finally, consider internal staff who have a penchant for this work and consider it a growth opportunity. It may take them awhile to ramp up the skills, but they probably already know the business. And if that isn’t a path they are able to go down, consider bringing in interns or upskilled professionals into a pilot program.


We’ve been told, point blank, that people are not interested in roles that are 100% on-site, so will need to determine how to address that to improve our own recruitment.


I agree about hybrid and remote options. If there’s a residency requirement, that could be prohibitive for some. Personally I prefer to work for organizations that are innovative and accepting, with robust DEI programs and passion for improving. Many recent grads might feel similarly. So if the org comes across as very traditional, that might be a factor as well. Easier fixes might be access to organizational leadership (the Administrator and their team) and professional development opportunities. If I knew an org would pay for me to go to ICMA every year and support my professional development work (give me admin/training time to listen to webinars/go to conferences), I would be more interested in working for them. Good luck!


If it’s a populous area, are you considering what you can offer that the other local govs around you can’t? Beyond the usual stuff like pay or remote / hybrid work, it could be helpful to focus in on what makes your community stand out among your region and why you could be one of the cooler ones to work for.


Without more info, it’s hard to say. “Analyst” is one of those job titles that means very different things at different organizations. One thing from sitting on a recent analyst hiring panel is being open to various kinds of backgrounds and work experiences, and being explicit about that in the recruitment. Someone with a STEM degree isn’t oriented like an MPA grad would be, but they’ve got experience thinking through problems and looking for solutions.


Sometimes we just get locked into what we’re used to, and that comes through in the hiring announcement, which limits your applicant pool.


What are the organization’s values? How do they live these values? How does this set them apart from other organizations? What about the specific department?


While it was helpful having other analysts in other other departments in previous organizations I have worked for, what was challenging was that I was the only analyst in my department. And my department had a lot of technical people in it. There was not always a ton of understanding or support for my role. So having other analysts in the organization wouldn’t be s selling point to me.


Work life balance is key but is also missing in a lot of municipalities or other government entities due to too much micromanagement and little to no options for work at home.


An upfront commitment to professional development opportunities, both internally and externally. Typically, those that are interested in analyst type positions have higher aspirations and I can see it being appealing to offer cross departmental training/experience and relationship building to better prepare that person for future leadership roles. There’s also data out there to show that the better connected a person is within the larger organization, the more likely they are to grow within vs looking externally for new roles.


Such a great conversation. I’m curious if they have built any good relationships with MPP or MPA programs. Do they offer internships that might identify people who would be a good fit?


I just wish I would have graduated into this job market with an MSES/MPA. For me vacation days or a clear statement that time without pay will be allowed when requested and the ability to work 4, 10s that kind of flexibility would be fitting for an analyst position.


Generally, that salary level, job title, and opportunity to work on a team of analysts would be considered desirable in the xxxx area (despite relatively high cost of living). If the hiring challenges are more recent, then the flexibility of the position might be an issue to consider (flexible schedule, opportunity to work from home part of the week, etc.).


What are the top considerations your students/graduates have when looking for a first local government job?

Breadth of exposure to city operations; upward mobility; on-the-job skill building; some engagement with policymaking

Is “management analyst” a desirable title? Is there another title that people prefer?

This is a common title in our area and I haven’t heard any negativity around the title.

What makes students/graduates wary or skeptical about a job posting?

While high turnover is normal in many analyst positions, job candidates pick up on frequent postings of the same position. Communicating if the vacancies are due to employees moving elsewhere in the organization might help provide a positive spin.


  1. What are the top considerations your students/graduates have when looking for a first local government job?

My students are looking for “fit”.  They want to be able to say that the job they are applying for is relevant to what they have studied in their education.  They are very interested in telecommuting.  This is a huge challenge for our local governments but I am advising my local governments that they have to include some level of telecommuting in their positions.  This is going to be a make or break for many students who worked through covid in their studies and want the flexibility.  They are somewhat concerned about salary; they want to feel like their starting pay is fair; local governments should not be lowballing just because they are recent graduates.

  1. What are some of the projects of responsibilities they most seek in a job post-MPA/MPP degree? 

Many of my students are going to the local government because it seems interesting and relevant to what they studied.  The more special projects the better.  They want hybrid jobs – set of regular duties but also a degree of variety.  I have students going to work as entry level economic development specialists, planning positions, etc.  with a set of regular duties but they have the ability to work on high level projects as well.  Many of my recent conversations have been ” I am an economic development specialist and I am staff to the EDA but I’m working on the county’s economic strategic plan”

  1. Is “management analyst” a desirable title? Is there another title that people prefer? 

Yes, management analyst is good – this title gives a professional appearance and recognizes the hybrid nature of the job.  I wonder if there is a management analyst/….specialist.  For example, management analyst/budget specialist or planning specialists, etc?

  1. What makes students/graduates wary or skeptical about a job posting? 

I teach a lot about job postings and advertisements…they want something that speaks to purpose driven, career, why is it exciting to work for that organization (the local government’s seal doesn’t do it).  Local governments have to get creative AND they have to use social media.  You would be surprised at how many small to mid sized communities still post in the local newspaper.  Using indeed or other job search tools – linked-in – my undergraduates have linkedin accounts now.  If your community below can draft an advertisement that speaks to the hybrid nature of the position – set job duties but potential for higher level projects that would serve them well.  And, where are they advertising?  MPA/MPP programs will distribute – think nationally for this – interviews can be conducted via zoom so there is no cost in interviewing across the nation…

Close window