Work | Finding Meaningful Work in a Recession

Local Government has an image problem, maybe it’s more a recognition problem. If you ask a bunch of 10 year olds what they want to be when they grow up, you might hear the usual firefighter, farmer, doctor, astronaut, dancer, or nowadays, a professional gamer (my first born), squishy designer (darling boy, my other son), popstar triple threat or like. But I have $10 on it, you will never hear ‘work in local government’.  Why, well because Local Government is low profile. We just go on ‘behind the scenes’ so to speak and we rarely ‘shout, shout and let it all out’.

Once you are big and grown, and realise that gaming will not pay the grocery bill, then I think Local Government is a whiz bang space to spend some years. Why, well here are a few of my thoughts on why. These are the positive, come back another day for the cons list. No need to rain on the parade just now. Just remember your umbrella, as occasionally we get rained on.


Meaningful – who builds roads, supplies water, makes a park a play space, has thousands of books able to be borrowed for free, puts in pools, takes away poop, provides performance spaces and more … Local Government does. There is no other sector that influences the daily well-being of an individual, a community and the livability of space and place, more than LG does. And you get to be part of that. It’s meaningful work.

Rewarding – a bit like meaningful, only different. Being of service is a personally satisfying and rewarding part to life in LG. Depending on the jurisdiction and each individual Council, you may find yourself involved in citizenship and refugee programs, community development, civic pride and inclusive initiatives. Maybe clean water and catchment management programs, pest management and recycling initiatives, things that give you a sense of pride in your contribution to the whole.

Influencer – maybe not immediately obvious, but none the less real. Policy makers, land use planners, urban designers, landscape architects, transport strategists and more, all have influence over how LG shapes the world around us. So unless you are living under a rock in outer space, then your space has been influenced by more than one local government officer, every day, more than once. Think about that. Economic development initiatives, what gets planted in the botanic gardens and what ends up in the local library collection are all part of the decision making done by LG officers everywhere. Influencing outcomes is fun.

Recession resistant – a bit different to meaningful and rewarding, but still true. LG is almost recession proof, it is certainly recession resistant. In our current city, urban, suburban, rural and remote locales, LG is part of the fabric of the place. Where other government services may be slim on the ground, LG is there. That means, barring a country wide zombie apocalypse type scenario, you will have a job. Forever if you like and assuming you add value and are worth having around. We are a tax funded entity, with legislation to support the land tax regime, your rates thanks very much. That means no boom or bust, profit driven economic pressure. Yes, things change, we contract out, we amalgamate, we seek efficiencies, but heavens, no matter what happens in China, the people down the street will want their morning poop gone.

Transferable – skill sets and localities are both transferable. Gone are the days when you needed a Shire Clerk certificate to work in Queensland. I have ceo’ed in New Zealand, New South Wales and Queensland x 3. Yes, different legislation, but not that different. Same principle based approach really.  Plus your people management, financial literacy, strategic thinking and good decision making skills all work, with mind mods, no matter where you are. Add to that, the majority of specific skill sets are transferable nowadays into the private and not for profit sectors too. Engineers, accountants, customer service queens, planners, policy peeps and more can all move between the sectors, and between countries, with minor adjustments in focus and aim and the right passport/spouse.


  • individual days are not boring as we dealt to 101 different people/demands/outcomes
  • we don’t have super stressful points as we are not the ER or the fire brigade, except when we do emergency management/civil defense/mother nature whipped us good responses – they are a tad exciting and therefore stress inducing
  • most jobs are day work, Monday to Friday
  • most work spaces are pleasant to be in, as we don’t tend to attract drama queens  or overly egotistical peeps (they can be found elsewhere …. more on that later)
  • most workplaces have decent levels of concerns for employee well-being
  • the pressure is constant for the most part, so if you are an organised, structured type you will do well as there is predictability to the routine
  • 99.9% of the customer base are nice and reasonably sane folk, who just want a helping hand. You give that, they say thankyou. The other 0.1% are beyond practical help and we don’t do miracles.

So, seeking a career change, a new route to work derived satisfaction? Well I invite you in. The LG welcome mat is out, the door is open. If you already work in LG what do you think of our sector, how would you sell LG to those out there looking for a change? Let me know. Should you have any questions on how to pitch for those LG roles, happy to add value where I can. Cheers for now, Le

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