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How Do I Go into Public Personnel Administration?

By C. Webb
Updated: May 17, 2024

Public personnel administrators work in the human resources department of public entities such as nonprofit organizations and government offices. Duties of those in public personnel administration include placing advertisements for job openings, screening employees, giving qualifying tests, and interviewing those who pass. In addition, the administrator may be asked to make the final hiring decision as well as handle termination, layoffs, and ongoing employee training. Good communication skills, along with business and computer knowledge, are helpful.

A college degree in public administration may help get a job in public personnel administration. In addition to social services and public administration courses, you should also take human resource classes and computer classes. Some students go beyond a four-year degree to obtain a master's in public administration. Education can help provide a firm foundation of knowledge in issues specific to public administration as well as nonprofit organizations.

Working as an intern in a government office during summer months adds experience to your resume when you begin your job search. In addition to internships, you should volunteer at several nonprofit organizations throughout your college years. Though your goal is to work in public personnel administration, performing any work for a nonprofit or government office as an intern looks good on your resume. It also gives you an idea about working conditions in the field.

To work in public personnel administration, it is important to develop skill sets in organization and attention to detail. You will be required to maintain many employee files and training schedules, and also insurance information. Responsibility for compliance with employment law will also be your duty. Attention to detail is vital to success in public personnel administration.

Develop a resume that shows increasing responsibilities. Be sure to showcase any past duties that also required confidentiality, because a job in public personnel administration will require the ability to maintain privacy. If your job history is limited, include your intern and volunteer work, listing all relevant duties in those positions.

Contact government offices to inquire about openings in the personnel department. Send a cover letter and your resume to those that are hiring. Dress professionally for the interview and arrive a few minutes early. Once the interview is under way, answer questions with information about yourself that dovetail with potential duties in public personnel administration. Send a thank-you note the day after the interview, letting the department head know you are very interested in the position.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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