City of Sedona

Duffy Group's Tailored Recruitment Strategy Secures New City Manager for Sedona, Long-Term Hiring Relationship

Tasked with finding a highly specialized replacement for Sedona's retiring City Manager, Duffy Group developed a tailored recruitment strategy. We targeted passive candidates from similar resort-style, nationally renowned communities, considering the challenges of Sedona's location, higher cost of living and older population. The result? We found the needle in the haystack.

The Challenge

The retirement of Sedona’s City Manager required a precise search for a successor who could embrace and enhance the community’s unique, world-renowned lifestyle and manage its tourism-driven economy.

The ideal candidate needed municipal expertise, political acumen and strong emotional intelligence to connect with Sedona’s 10,000 residents and nearly 3 million annual visitors, as well as to drive major city projects.

The search for a new leader, however, presented distinct challenges:

  • Attracting candidates from similar communities was challenging due to Sedona’s high cost of living, low housing stock and older demographic with a median age of 60.
  • Relocating families proved difficult, especially with the potential disruption to a partner’s career in a tourism-dependent area.
  • The hiring process required majority votes from the Sedona City Council, which added a layer of complexity.
  • Recruiting candidates with young children was particularly tough due to the significant lifestyle and educational adjustments needed in Sedona.
  • Sedona’s national reputation resulted in a high volume of applicants, yet this saturation made candidate vetting challenging as many did not meet the required qualifications.

The Scenario

Upon the City Manager’s retirement announcement, the City of Sedona sought Duffy Group, having been impressed by our approach during another city manager search in Arizona. Sedona’s unique environment demanded a leader who was not only adept at managing similar cities but also capable of spearheading initiatives like a new tourism board, robust transit system and affordable housing projects.

The Solution

Duffy Group developed a customized sourcing strategy to find a new city manager, conducting a detailed intake to identify key qualities and utilizing our proprietary Duffy Recruitment Research™ model to target candidates from cities similar to Sedona in size, budget and tourism focus.

We reached out to potential candidates in Moab, Utah; Grand Junction, Colorado; Sandpoint, Idaho; Newport, Rhode Island; Annapolis, Maryland; and Fountain Hills and Page, Arizona, areas with the affluent, resort-style characteristics essential for understanding Sedona’s unique needs.

To ensure alignment with both hard qualifications and soft skills like emotional intelligence, we relied on our proprietary search model, a key benefit of our approach. Candidates were asked to share examples of managing conflicting priorities while maintaining professionalism and high emotional intelligence when working with council members.

The Outcome

Our strategic outreach yielded significant results:

  • A diverse slate of eight qualified candidates was identified within three months, a swift timeline considering the hurdles.
  • After thorough interviews, the Sedona City Council and executive team hired a city manager from a ski resort town in Idaho who was experienced in managing a tourism-centric economy.
  • The new city manager’s background closely matched Sedona’s needs, allowing for effective management of key community projects.
  • The former City Manager was extremely satisfied with the outcome, enabling her to retire knowing Sedona was in capable hands.
  • Duffy Group’s research-driven and thoughtful approach led to further recruitment partnerships for additional key positions within Sedona and neighboring cities.

Our strategy of targeting passive talent not only filled this role efficiently but also drew additional municipal job searches from impressed candidates involved in the city manager search, who are now eager to use our services to strengthen their public sector teams.

We had a very productive experience with Melissa and the Duffy Group. I was impressed that they were very proactive in their search for applicants, they sought out and really recruited exceptional candidates. In our case, our new city manager wasn’t actively looking to leave her last position so if the Duffy Group hadn’t done their research and recruited her and then sold her on our amazing city, we wouldn’t now have a wonderful new manager who is an amazing fit for our community.

Scott Jablow | Mayor | City of Sedona