Findings from the ELGL Diversity Dashboard confirm what people have been talking about for (seemingly) ages: local government leadership is getting older. The most recent data upload shows that 65 percent of chief administrative officers (CAOs) and assistant CAOs (ACAOs) are age 50 and better. And 34 percent of CAOs and ACAOs are age 60 or better.
This is a tremendous amount of institutional knowledge that is closer to retirement than college graduation (and that’s only measuring for two positions in a local government organization). It is imperative that local governments are aware of the potential impact of these retirements on the organization and the profession as a whole.
Many organizations are taking proactive measures to plan for and address planned retirements; a recent GovLove episode with Hillsboro, Oregon city manager Michael Brown showcased how that city planned ahead for the retirement of a long-serving assistant city manager.
But, not everyone is afforded this degree of planning. In cases when a knowledgeable employee gives notice that they are retiring, it is critical to have a deep bench of talent to draw from to fill that position. Similarly, talent development programs in some local government agencies seek to address this challenge, but not all agencies have capacity for developing, running, and maintaining these types of programs.
And so, when you’re caught off guard by a retirement, the challenge can seem scary and insurmountable. Couple that with the fact that any seasoned HR vet will tell you that you can’t fill essential positions with the old “post and pray” technique of just advertising for job vacancies and hoping that a great candidate pool applies.
All of these factors mean that a proactive recruitment strategy that can be turned on a dime is essential. The ability to tap into a high quality candidate pool is critical. Here are a few tips on how your agency can do this:
- Create assistant positions
- This is an expensive piece of advice but it’s a really important step if you want to build talent within your agency to help you withstand retirements that you don’t anticipate. Having someone who has served at the right hand of the retiring leader (assuming the person retiring is a director or part of the leadership team) and knows the ins and outs of the procedural side of their work, will allow for a smoother transition because they’ve received on the job training. And just because you create the position, doesn’t mean you have to hire them into the director role permanently – a fair and honest conversation when the assistant position is created will set expectations for what the job is currently, and what it can become in the future.
- Organize a Supper Club
- Who do you know in your city/region who works in local government? If your only answers are your coworkers, it’s time to branch out, and Supper Clubs are great ways to get to know people who work in cities and counties near you. These are very casual events for people to get together and have a meal, talk about their jobs, and get to know each other. These types of informal connections become invaluable when you suddenly have a job vacancy to fill and need to grow your network quickly. Supper Clubs are easy to organize, just email Christian Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll get you set up with everything you need to make one successful.
- Advertise on the ELGL job board
- Self-serving segment of this post: join ELGL as an All-In member and get free unlimited job postings for the year. Our Job Board is the most diverse job posting site in local government, with jobs from across the nation in almost every department. Or, you can access the Job Board as an individual member to look for a job and to research job descriptions and ad language that your organization can mimic.
- Use SGRecruiter©
- SGR’s new recruitment tool literally builds the recruitment bench for you – all you have to do is tap into it. Lori Phylaw from SGR provides more detail below about SGRecruiter©:
SGRecruiter© is a groundbreaking new platform developed by SGR Executive Search (www.GovernmentResource.com) that provides an innovative solution to recruiting in the midst of the Baby Boomer Bust.
As seasoned local government managers retire at a rapid rate, municipal organizations are challenged with recruiting next generation leaders. These vacancies create a flood of new opportunities for emerging local government professionals.
SGRecruiter© delivers a cutting-edge way for employers and job seekers to find their perfect match. Prospective candidates register with SGRecruiter© and upload their resumes. The prospect’s name and employers are masked making it safe for passive candidates to be in the market confidentially. Employers create a job posting and SGRecruiter’’s algorithms match the job posting with prospects for that specific job.
When the employer hits “search” a list of masked prospects whose experience and desired background matches the job are delivered. The employer can then communicate directly with each of the prospects via chat inside the platform and prospects only reveal their identity once they feel like discussions are serious enough to warrant exposure.
The system is entirely free for prospective candidates to use. Check it out and become a passive candidate for future opportunities at www.SGRecruiter.com. For more information contact LoriPhilyaw@GovernmentResource.com.
I’ve spent almost 15 years in local government. I graduated from Syracuse with a BA in History and Sociology and USC with a MPA. I live in Steamboat Springs, CO and have lived/worked in San Diego, Fort Collins and Steamboat Springs. I didn’t invent the #Cityhallselfie but I may have invented #Cityhallselfieday