Managers' Perceptions of Entry-Level Job Competencies When Making Hiring Decisions for Municipal Recreation Agencies


  • Keith Fulthorp California State University Long Beach
  • Melissa H. D'Eloia California State University Long Beach


Entry-level employment, hiring decisions, human resources, job competencies, parks and recreation


Identifying and understanding competencies related to employment in municipal parks and recreation agencies can help guide managers' hiring and employment decisions. Competencies can be described as the “essential skills, knowledge, abilities, and personal characteristics needed for effective job performance†(Hurd, 2005, p. 46). The specific competencies that are used by municipal recreation managers to guide their employment decisions are largely unknown. Identifying which competencies are the most critical to municipal recreation managers is essential to informing human resources practices and individuals entering the workforce. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate the competencies that are important to people responsible for making hiring decisions for municipal recreation agencies. Data were collected in partnership with the California Park and Recreation Society (CPRS) using an electronic survey. Using a modified version of the Entry Level Competency Framework (ELCF), this study asked recreation supervisors, managers, and directors to rate competencies in order of perceived importance when making hiring decisions for entry-level full-time positions in municipal recreation agencies. The revised ELCF was comprised of 68 competencies, categorized into eight competency domains: communication skills, community relations skills, interpersonal skills, leading people, managing organizations, professional practice skills, technology skills, and inclusion skills. Each competency was ranked on a scale that ranged from (1) I would hire someone without this skill to (5) I would never hire someone without this skill. Of these eight domains, the participants in this study rated communication skills (M = 4.03) and interpersonal skills (M = 3.99) the highest. However, all domains in the study were rated above a mean of 3.0, which suggests that participants in this study had a preference toward hiring people with all of these skills. Based on the ratings of individual job competencies, the authors list 10 critical competencies that managers of municipal recreation agencies can use to help guide their hiring decisions. The value of a recreation degree was also assessed. According to the participants in this study, a degree in recreation is not an essential requirement when making hiring decisions for entry-level employees. However, municipal parks and recreation agencies can use the ELCF as an evaluation tool to help guide human resource procedures for applicant screening and employment decisions.