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Arkansas State University

How Can the Public Sector Win Top Talent?

Considering a career in government? With a Master of Public Administration from Arkansas State, you could become a sought-after candidate in the public sector and also gain the skills needed to serve your community on a local, state or federal level.

The Government Is Always Hiring

The government is well known for offering job security. Layoffs are rare — even during a recession — and hiring in the industry has grown significantly. According to the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE), the percentage of governments hiring increased from 27 percent in 2013 to 77 percent in 2016. And while federal, state and local agencies can tout their attractive incentives, they still regularly compete with the private industry for top talent.

Now, employment recruiters are finding other ways to convince candidates to work in the public sector by offering some of the same incentives as private companies. These include the following:

  • Telecommuting — The SLGE reports that 22 percent of state and local governments currently allow eligible workers to work from home. Studies show that telecommuting increases productivity, decreases employee travel expenses and helps improve employee health by lowering their stress level.
  • Flexible hours — Employees can work the typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or other hours that are more conducive to their work-life balance.
  • Flexible schedules — Approximately 59 percent of state and local government agencies allow employees to work flexible schedules (such as four 10-hour days), according to the SLGE.

The Purpose-Driven Employee

Some consider working for the government an honorable act of public service, almost in the same vein as serving in the military. Some recruiters are courting “purpose-driven” candidates who want more than a paycheck, they want to make a difference in their communities, and they want to feel like their job is their “calling.”

Therefore, government job descriptions have begun to evolve, from a staid list of job duties and requirements to more creatively crafted postings that promote the government as a place where potential employees can combine their passion and purpose as a public servant.

In Denver, for example, the job listing to recruit the city’s new chief information officer read, in part, “Can you imagine being part of a team running a major metropolitan city? Can you imagine actually doing something about the issues facing your community? … We need you …You could change the world.”

One of Chipotle’s top IT executives, Frank Daidone, was wooed away from the restaurant chain and hired for the job.

“Our recruitment became all about convincing him that increasing the market share of burritos was not his calling; it was instead improving the quality of life for the community where he lived,” said David Edinger, Denver’s Chief Performance Officer.

Isaac White, A-State graduate, found his calling while in the U.S. military.

“After being in the Army, I knew that public service was something that I wanted to pursue,” said White, a May 2017 graduate of Arkansas State University’s online Master of Public Administration in the Public Management Track. He was the first A-State online student selected to the prestigious Presidential Management Fellows Program. He now works for the Social Security Administration as a systems analyst.

“I really enjoy the challenges that government faces. There are big problems, and, unfortunately, I don’t think as a nation we’ve put our best people into solving those problems. Rather than going into business administration, public administration was what I wanted to focus on. It’s not always glamorous, but you are solving tough problems — and it’s really rewarding.”

How a Master of Public Administration Can Help

Arkansas State’s online Master of Public Administration program is ideal for local, state or federal employees who want to expand their knowledge base and boost their chances for promotion at work. The degree program offers hands-on experience via internships as well as coursework in politics, U.S. government, public budgeting and finance, grant writing, and more. Students will come away from the program with the skills required for effective public administration, from managing people and money to resources and programs.

A-State’s MPA program is 100 percent online, which means you can keep your day job and complete classes on your own time — during lunch break, for example, or after hours. You can earn your MPA in as few as 18 months and be on your way to the public administration job you’ve been called to do.

Learn more about the Arkansas State University online MPA program.


Center for State & Local Government Excellence: Survey Findings — State and Local Government Workforce: 2016 Trends

Forbes: Benefits of Telecommuting for the Future of Work

Governing: How Denver’s Attracting Top Private-Sector Talent from Places Like Chipotle

Presidential Management Fellows Program: U.S. Office of Personnel Management

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