Knope of the Week: Heidi Voorhees, Voorhees Associates

Posted on January 24, 2014

Smart and Honest Tips.  Valuable Information. Always Be Interviewing.


For improving our future employment chances through the information presented at this week’s webinar, we recognize Heidi Voorhees at the Knope of the Week. Heidi shared valuable information that she has learned through 19 years of local government management experience and through hundreds of management recruitments.

Background Check

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lp-icma-3Heidi Voorhees is the President and Owner of Voorhees Associates, LLC an executive recruitment and management consulting firm specializing in local government services. Prior to starting her own business, Ms. Voorhees worked for the PAR Group serving as its President from 2006-2009. In addition, she has 19 years of local government leadership and management service including ten years as the Village Manager for Wilmette, Illinois.

Ms. Voorhees is an Adjunct Instructor for Northwestern University Master’s Degree Program in Public Policy and Administration and for the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety. She was a 1999-2000 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow, serves on the Board of the Family Service Center for Wilmette, Northbrook, Glenview and Kenilworth, and is a member of the Wilmette Harbor Rotary Club. Ms. Voorhees holds a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from Indiana University where she was an Eli Lilly State and Local Government Fellow and recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus. Ms. Voorhees also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Illinois State University.

Takeaways from Heidi’s Presentation Voorhees

  • The line between policy and administration is more blurred than ever before
  • If you are familiar with federal grants or loan applications that should absolutely be on your resume
  • Elected officials want to see that you can work on economic development issues
  • Do your homework on the politics of the community. If you don’t know what’s going on you can’t be prepared for it.
  • Dress for the job you aspire to
  • Quantify your accomplishments!
  • Ask questions that show you’ve done research on the community
  • Ask for the job if you want it
  • One of the best questions @VoorheesAssoc has heard at the end of an interview was asking the Council why they ran for office
  • Don’t overlook your collaborative management skills when it comes to the resume and interview.
  • Residency requirements are bad news!
  • It’s vital to develop relationships with the police chief and city attorney. Elected officials often want to know that you have experience getting along with both.
  • Make a succinct, closing statement at a job interview
  • Tips for following up on interview: wait a day before asking about the status. Don’t bug them
  • Always be interviewing” whenever you meet an elected official it could lead to a job

Word on the Street


Brian Southey, City of Bloomington (IL), Management Intern

I really enjoyed Heidi’s talk and took away a lot of great information concerning the recruitment/interview process. What stuck out to me was her explaining the attention to detail some employers get into during the recruitment process. Whether it be handshakes, interaction with staff outside the actual interview, follow up questions, or lack there of adequate follow up questions. There are lots of things candidates need to make sure and pay attention to during the process. At the end of the day, when two candidates seem equal, the smallest thing could swing who is offered the job. I definitely have a new outlook on the whole interview process.

Ben Kittelson, City of West Linn, Economic Development/Public Affairs

I thought Heidi did a great job of covering important interview techniques, I plan on using some of her advice the next time I interview for a position. I had never thought of something as easy as using the question time to show that you had done research on the community, it’s really subtle and smart.

Patrick Rollens, Village of Oak Park (IL), Communications and Social Media

Heidi’s hints and tips about how to succeed in local government made a lot of sense and left me feeling like I was part of a competitive, vital industry – a far cry from how local gov is typically portrayed!

Michelle Miller, City of Sherwood, Senior PlannerjSCDZ

Heidi touched on many important points but a couple of  facts stood out.

Baby boomers are a large population segment that will be retiring soon leaving Generation X  in the position of filling their shoes so to speak. Also, the Millennials may be used to fill positions as well, and may get promotions before they are ready. Public sector organizations need to be structured so as to absorb this retirement with better mentoring and training for our younger generations while the experienced workers are still with us. We could lose a lot of institutional knowledge if we have too large of experience gaps in the near future. It is an opportunity for us to learn faster and better.

The axiom of “always be interviewing” is always relevant to most situations and keep aware of that potential.

Kent Wyatt, City of Tigard, Senior Management Analyst

It’s easy to see why Heidi has led such a successful career and serves as a mentor for many in the public sector. She didn’t hold back in her presentation, providing real information that we can use whether we are an intern or city manager.

Bridget Doyle, Village of Lombard, Communications Coordinator

I really enjoyed Heidi’s perspective on  what elected officials are looking for – as well as the pointers on professional dress and even posture. Sometimes we might be so focused on our resume that the little pieces fall to the wayside. It’s so great to hear these smart and honest tips from such a well-respected professional. Wonderful presentation!

Julie Underwood, ELGL columnist and former Shoreline (WA) city manager

Heidi’s experience and insights were invaluable! You never know when you’re going to find yourself on the job market so Heidi’s willingness to share her expertise is much appreciated. She provided helpful guidance to assist us in planning our careers. It’s clear she’s a great resource! Definitely deserving of our Knope of the Week!

Ben McCready, City of Rock Island (IL), Assistant to the City Manager

I was more than impressed with Heidi’s presentation this afternoon, she reiterated the fundamentals and left participants with substantive takeaways that will better prepare us to progress in our careers. While experience matters, I find that it’s just as important to be excited about joining a new community and show genuine thoughtfulness when interacting with it’s leaders. It’s important that our future leaders connect with dedicated professionals as the public sector prepares for a monumental generational shift. I have no reservations in saying that Heidi is both a dedicated professional and leader in our field.

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