A career in local government can be especially rewarding as it develops communities and provides important services to residents. In addition to competitive salaries, local government jobs offer job security, health insurance and retirement benefits that are as good as or better than those in the private sector. Local government employees also have the advantage of seeing the fruits of their labor on a daily basis.
As the Baby Boomer generation moves into retirement, there is opportunity for advancement in all areas of local government. In a 2008 survey of local government managers conducted by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), 24 percent of respondents said they were eligible to retire and 43 percent said they would be eligible within the next five years. These retirements will lead to a large number of vacancies in government management positions.
If you currently are working in local government and would like to take on new challenges and advance to higher level positions, these are five tips that will help boost your career:
1. Accept Challenges
Prove that you are passionate about the community you serve by stepping up to small and large challenges. You may face complex issues that defy simple solutions; instead of letting someone else take responsibility, use every resource available to find for solutions that offer maximum benefit to the community.
2. Adapt To Change
Local government is dynamic. New federal and state laws, changing community demographics and advances in technology and industry all require government employees to be agile learners who can adapt to change. In order to succeed, you must be ready to adapt to an ever-changing environment without sacrificing your guiding principles.
3. Earn A Master Of Public Administration Degree
Many executives, managers and administrators in local, state and federal agencies hold Master of Public Administration (MPA) degrees. Earning an advanced degree increases your competitiveness and proves that you are serious about your career. An MPA degree is recognized as providing the skills needed for leadership positions in government agencies and nonprofit organizations. The coursework for this degree will teach you how to develop and implement policies and programs that will benefit society.
4. Leverage Social Media For Professional Networking
Don’t expect to receive professional recognition for quietly doing your job. An increasing number of professionals in both the public and private sectors use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to network with colleagues and connect with future employers. Government workers also have access to the GovLoop social network, where you can advance your knowledge by reading guides and infographics, finding mentors, networking with colleagues who do similar work and becoming a recognized expert by posting articles and answering questions.
5. Focus On The Big Picture
Few government managers and administrators begin their career at their current position. Starting out with positions that put you in direct contact with members of the community is a good way to gain experience and expand your professional skill set. Just don’t allow yourself to become comfortable at a lower-level position. Target a county or city where you would like to work and find out about the qualifications for higher-level jobs that are a good match for your career goals.
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