25 January 2021

Recruitment survey

My local community has requested feedback from the public: 
"In preparation for the upcoming recruitment and selection process, the Mayor and Common Council are asking for input from residents, city staff, and community and business leaders regarding the traits, characteristics, and skills they feel are most important in selecting the next City Administrator."
I have to be careful not to mock them for this effort, but I truly don't understand how a survey like this can produce meaningful guidance to the committee.  How does one place relative ranks on calmness, integrity, optimism, flexibility etc.  And frankly, "practices active listening" sounds like a checkbox on a fifth-grade report card.

I think it's wonderful that they seek guidance from the community, but I honestly can't see how something like this survey can be helpful.  Very likely my background doesn't provide relevant experience in personnel management.


  1. I suspect that the purpose is either:
    A. To provide a paycheck to a consultant who writes surveys for a living
    B. To provide data for someone's doctoral dissertation

  2. .... or to provide defensive fodder should ever someone get upset about the nepotism to come.

    1. Ah, yes. I was insufficiently cynical.

      I remember, about 20 years ago, applying for a librarian position in a small town in South Carolina. I was living in Ohio when I saw the job posting. I called up the number listed and asked to be mailed a job application.

      "Oh, you can just pick one up in the office here."

      "Thanks, but I'm in Ohio. It's too far away."

      "You can just have someone you know in the area pick up an application and mail it to you."

      "I don't know anyone in the state. Could you mail me an application if I send you a self-addressed stamped envelope."

      "No, our policy is not to mail out job applications."

      Their policy was that city jobs were reserved for city residents.

    2. > city jobs were reserved for city residents.

      if you don't live there then you may not care how you decisions, as a 'person in charge', have on the residents who have to live with what you decide.


    3. if you don't live there then you may not care how you decisions, as a 'person in charge', have on the residents who have to live with what you decide.

      Possibly, but it would also dramatically reduce the applicant pool of qualified librarians.

  3. Maybe a backhanded way to make the public aware it's happening so they don't have to listen later to...
    I didn't know they were looking.
    I wish I'd known at the time.
    I wonder what criteria they used.

  4. The Passing of the Buck

  5. And not a single local item on the list. All generic bullshit.

    Missing are:

    - Ties to the community.
    - Knowledge about the [insert local] scandal.
    - Knowledge of the local administrative issues.
    - Experience as City Administrator.
    - Familiarity with the City Administration.

    But sure, let's hire a 'team player'.

  6. It's about public relations. Creating the illusion that people are heard. Many accept this as true, via suspension of disbelief. So, if it works, do it and repeat. I was called to city hall to weigh in on the recruitment of a new police chief. After all the BS, the city manager hired the deputy chief as was expected all along. I guess I was supposed to feel heard. And given I was a representative of the community, the community was supposed to feel heard. But, it was really ruse--or at least 99% so.


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