MMA hosted the first in a series of webinars for municipal officials to showcase timely hiring strategies to help communities succeed in a tight labor market. Pictured are (clockwise from top left) Shrewsbury Director of Human Resources Kristina Ordung, Danvers Assistant Town Manager and Communications Director Jen Breaker, and Springfield Assistant Human Resources Director Caitlyn Julius.

The MMA today hosted the first in a series of webinars for municipal officials to showcase timely hiring strategies to help communities succeed in a tight labor market.

“Setting the Table – Vacancies and Advertising” covered how innovative strategies for writing standout ads and seeking creative placements for vacancies can maximize the potential for reaching new and diverse candidates.

The session was led by Jen Breaker, the assistant town manager and communications director in Danvers, and Caitlyn Julius, the assistant human resources director in Springfield, along with Kristina Ordung, the director of human resources in Shrewsbury.

Breaker discussed the global labor shortage that has become more apparent since the peak of the COVID pandemic, partly due to workers’ desire for higher-paying jobs with more flexibility and the growing “gig economy.” She said municipal officials need to be proactive, rather than reactive, in their recruitment approach, developing action steps to market careers and reframe local government as a business.

Julius said communities can be proactive by working with retirement boards to regularly identify employees who may be eligible for retirement, so that departments can plan to update job descriptions and make internal arrangements.

Ordung suggested that communities create a five-year staffing plan, which helps appointed and elected officials think strategically about both short- and long-term department needs.

Panelists stressed the importance of developing and implementing a marketing strategy for vacancies once staffing needs are identified. Breaker suggested using web-based tools, such as Canva, to create high-end advertisements and graphics. Julius said it’s essential to post employment ads on the community’s social channels, such as Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram, as well as on job boards.

Ordung emphasized the importance of advertising opportunities through a sustainable public outreach strategy. She mentioned sharing job openings with community social clubs, religious groups, boards, commissions, and committees. Advertising employment opportunities in physical spaces, or electronically with these groups, can help reach a larger candidate pool, increase transparency, and foster positive relationships within the community.

Panelists discussed how to intentionally develop a clear understanding of the “ideal candidate” before starting the hiring process. They clarified how to define roles, approach the process in a holistic way, use existing resources, and analyze what makes your community competitive.

During a 20-minute question and answer period, attendees asked about recruiting with limited HR staff, leveraging social media, and hosting virtual job fairs.

Upcoming Reframing Recruitment webinars include:
Reframing Recruitment: The Interview Process – April 19
Reframing Recruitment: What Happens After the Offer – May 17
Reframing Recruitment: Key Takeaways from Vacancy to Post-Recruitment – June 14

• Reframing Recruitment: Setting the Table – Vacancies & Advertising presentation (3M PDF)
Reframing Recruitment: Setting the Table – Vacancies & Advertising resources (1.3M PDF)


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