How to Hire a Professional Local Government Manager

Here are some tips for hiring a professional city, town, or county manager or administrator.

VIA ICMA

First Steps

Before a professional manager or administrator can be hired, a local government’s structure of government must be modified to provide for the position. The process of creating a position of manager or administrator can vary from state to state.

  • Some local governments have the authority to act on their own initiative to adopt local ordinances, laws, or resolutions to create the position of a manager or administrator who is appointed by the elected governing body.
  • In states where local governments may write their own charter under home-rule provisions, a number of communities take advantage of that opportunity to create a professional manager or administrator position. 
  • Some states have enacted statutes that provide for alternative forms or optional charters that local governments can adopt to establish an appointed manager or administrator position.
  • In some states, structural change can take place by obtaining charters through special legislation adopted by the state legislative body.  

Consider your community’s unique demands and needs

Many professional local government managers and administrators have earned an advanced degree and have held positions of increasing authority. 

  • Beyond the basic education and experience required by the position, the community's elected officials should develop a job description that outlines their expectations and measurable objectives. 
  • Elected officials should also develop a profile of the kind of manager or administrator who will best serve their community's needs.

ICMA can help your local government facilitate this process. The organization's Recruitment Guidelines for Selecting a Local Government Administrator is a definitive resource that contains tips on recruiting applicants, determining finalists, and interviewing techniques.

Begin the search

  • Determine whether elected officials will conduct their own search or work with an executive recruitment firm.
  • Prepare and place advertisements in publications that will attract the most qualified candidates, such as ICMA's e-newsletter, Leadership Matters; the ICMA JobCenter; and state association publications.

Make the selection

  • Review resumes and identify potential candidates based on their experience and established criteria.
  • Select the top candidates and schedule interviews with the evaluation panel.
  • Once a decision has been reached, negotiate the terms and conditions of employment with the new manager or administrator and formalize a written agreement.
  • Finally, at this time, it is important to develop mutually agreed-upon goals and establish an annual review process through which the elected body and the manager or administrator can discuss performance.
 

Downloads

Recruitment Guidelines for Selecting a Local Government Administrator

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