Moving from the Private Sector to Local Government

Transitioning from the private sector to a local government role can be an enriching and fulfilling career move. While the sectors differ in their operational dynamics and objectives, there are several transferable skills and experiences that make professionals from the private sector valuable assets to the public sector. This blog post aims to guide CEOs, General Managers, Directors, and Managers working in the private sector in Australia, who aspire to make the shift to local government, through the process of successfully navigating this transition.


Understanding Local Government in Australia:

Before embarking on your transition journey, it is crucial to gain a comprehensive understanding of the local government landscape in Australia. Familiarise yourself with the roles, functions, and responsibilities of local government bodies at the state and municipal levels. Research the legislative framework and governance structures governing local government to grasp the context within which you will be working.


Identifying Transferable Skills:

Identify and highlight the skills and experiences from your private sector background that can be applied to local government. Effective leadership, strategic planning, financial management, project management, stakeholder engagement, and communication skills are highly transferable and sought after in the public sector. Assess your abilities and identify areas where you can contribute value to local government organisations.


Building Public Sector Knowledge:

To successfully transition, it is essential to develop an understanding of the unique challenges, policies, and practices prevalent in the public sector. Attend seminars, conferences, and workshops focused on local government issues to broaden your knowledge base. Engage with professionals already working in local government roles to gain insights into their experiences and the nuances of the sector.


Network and Collaborate:

Building a strong network within the local government sector is invaluable when seeking opportunities. Leverage existing connections and actively engage with professionals from local government through industry events, professional associations, and online platforms. Seek out mentors who can guide you through the transition process and provide advice specific to the public sector.   Contact your local Council and seek advice from the CEO.


Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter:

When applying for local government positions, tailor your resume and application to showcase your relevant skills and experiences. Highlight accomplishments that demonstrate your ability to navigate complex projects, manage budgets, and engage diverse stakeholders. Emphasise your commitment to public service and your understanding of the unique challenges faced by local government organisations.


Seek Transitional Programs:

Some local government bodies offer transitional programs specifically designed to support professionals from the private sector in their transition to the public sector. These programs provide insights into the workings of local government, mentorship opportunities, and exposure to various departments. Research and apply for such programs to enhance your chances of a successful transition.


Be Prepared for Different Decision-Making Processes:

The decision-making processes can be a bit more involved – requiring community consultation, perhaps workshops with Councillors, and then formal reports submitted to Council meetings.   Be prepared for a more consultative and participatory approach, involving multiple stakeholders and community engagement. Adapt your decision-making style accordingly and be open to working collaboratively within a bureaucratic environment.


Embrace Continuous Learning:

Transitioning to local government requires a willingness to adapt and learn continuously. Stay updated with the latest trends, policies, and legislative changes in the public sector. Pursue professional development opportunities, such as short courses or certifications, that enhance your understanding of local government functions and improve your skills in areas such as public administration, policy development, and governance.



Transitioning from the private sector to local government in Australia can be a rewarding career move, allowing professionals to contribute to their local communities and make a positive impact on society. By understanding the local government landscape, leveraging transferable skills, building networks, and embracing continuous learning, CEOs, General Managers, Directors, and Managers from the private sector can successfully navigate this transition and thrive in their new roles. With the right mindset, preparation, and dedication, the journey from the private sector to local government can open up new opportunities for professional growth and fulfilment.