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Thread: Getting that first Planning Director job

  1. #1
    Member
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    Getting that first Planning Director job

    So, any tips out there on how to convince a hiring committee to give you a shot at your first Planning Director job? I imagine many PDs move up from within the ranks at particular jurisdiction (or company). Yet there must be some level of frequency for Senior and Principal Planner types to move to another jurisdiction and be given that first opportunity to lead the show.

    Did it happen that way for you? Are you still trying to make it happen? What did you (or will you) say to convince someone to give you the chance?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    assuming you are talking about municipal planning:

    when I made the jump from a planner in a department in one town to director in another, I highlighted on my resume and cover letter the projects that I truly ran myself - focus on projects that were assigned to you to run - if it was permitting, then talk about that responsibility - if it's committee, then focus on that committee, what you did, etc.

    you want to show that you are capable of running the show, as it were

    if you are going for a position that includes managing staff that maybe you have not done yet (but remember, working with interns counts), then focus on your abilities to work with other people and have a reference from someone who worked with you at your level and not just your supervisor(s)

    always include a reference from a citizen board/committee/commission member that you worked really well in because that shows you connected with your community even though you weren't in charge

    good luck - keep us posted

  3. #3
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Sure.....

    Be confident you can do the work during the interview....

    I went from Associate Planner to Director the first time......then from Senior Planner to Director the second time........ My first interview was over an hour long and held first in executive session then during an open public meeting. Be VERY familiar with the jurisdiction that you want to work for
    Skilled Adoxographer

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    I was sought out by another community, invited to come to an interview by a executive committee and was hired by them.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian CDT's avatar
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    I was recently hired as a director. I was asked to apply by the administrator and an elected official. Seems like in my case they had their eye on me. That said, I did prepare for the interview. I noted my "added value" characteristics of what I could bring to the table. I focused on networking with area jurisdictions and my knowledge and dedication to protecting the environment. Often times it's not what you know, it's who you know. That is, if you have the primary skill set for the job. I have ten years previous experience and was in a "city planner" position with a city. My primary job duties were similar to an assistant director. It was a different jurisdiction but very close to my current job. In fact, no further from my home than the first.

    My biggest advise, beyond just actually having the skill set for a director position, is to network like heck. Know who is in favor with the future boss, network with them. Even though that person may not be one of your references, they still may get called to find out what they know about you. I know of one instance that happened to someone I know. I heard about it from the person who got the call. The applicant probably didn't even know that happened. All of this, of course, applies to your local area if that's where you're looking...

    My references included another local planning director (who is good buddies with the administrator), a building director from adjacent municipality, a local chamber of commerce person and professor that I have known for ten years. I would have asked a local council member but the whole thing was too confidential. But I have at least one council person that would give a blinding review if ever needed. I considered him, but opted to use the other planning director instead. I knew the planning director reference would be icing on the cake because they're very good friends with the administrator. And like I said, it's who you know.
    Last edited by CDT; 24 May 2008 at 1:45 AM.

  6. #6
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I was recruited...twice. In each case, my title was not "director" but that's the function. (My current job title of "manager" will change to "director" when the salary survey is completed in a few weeks. This will also involve a bump in salary. )

    As others have stated, know the community where you a interviewing.

  7. #7
    Member
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    thanks for the advice

    Colleagues:

    I appreciate your input. Thank you for offering your take.

    Cheers

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