Magazine article Public Management

The Stepping-Stone Job

Magazine article Public Management

The Stepping-Stone Job

Article excerpt

Scenario: After more than 10 years of experience, some of it in a town manager job, the manager decided it was time to go back to his home state. He took a job as assistant city manager, even though he felt he was overqualified for it. A better-paying job in county government has just been advertised that is a much better match for his skills and experience.

He feels that this newer opening would be the ideal career move. At the same time, if he applied for this job and it was offered to him, he would fall a few months short of meeting the two-year commitment to his assistant city manager position. Although he knows the ICMA Code of Ethics obligates him to serve two years, he wonders if the circumstances could justify a shorter tenure. He also wants to discuss the potential impact on his career.

Response: The profession has given careful thought to the importance of making a minimum two-year commitment to a job. Communities invest a great deal of time and money in recruiting and training a new employee and expect a reasonable commitment in return. Leaving a job prematurely may hurt an individual's reputation and can also damage the image of the profession. Prospective employers are particularly leery of hiring individuals who have a pattern of short tenures.

When these employers do reference checks, they will want to know whether or not a previous employer would rehire the individual. By leaving a job on the best possible terms, a manager leaves most communities and employers feeling that they have been well served and more likely to welcome another professional manager in the future. …

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