NEWS + ADVICE
Careers in Public Service
When people hear the term public sector they think Federal Government. Really public sector is any place that identifies, influences, engages or executes policy that improves the life of the American Public. That would include federal, state and local government, federally funded research and development center, universities, and academic organizations.
Choosing a career in public service is also questioned because it’s thought of as stodgy, difficult and boring. Actually there can be quite a lot of innovation in this role. When you work for the public interest, you have to be very transparent and work against constraints. Problems will arise that no one else is solving. If you are drawn to really hard problems that change every day, then public service might be for you.
The hiring processes in the world of public service are thought to be very rigid. It’s important to realize that fighting these processes is not going to be useful. People who are dealing with them on the inside don’t have the latitude to change them. The rules are very different from department to department. It is unfortunately more on the candidate to understand them and to fit yourself into their knothole to get in the door.
While the hiring process might be different from the private to the public sector, it still boils down to what you bring to the table. Bring your passion into the discussion, because in the end, the public sector is looking for that as much as anyone in the corporate world.
With any career it’s important to start from a position of knowing yourself and knowing what motivates you and then figuring out what the job is that will bring you to that space. If you can’t answer the questions of what do you want, what kind of role are you looking for, what is your value in that role…it’s really hard to even start considering a job, let alone a career.
Finding a federal job is going to be quite a different process than finding one in the corporate community. A federal candidate will have to go through a typical human resources department and not a recruiter. Once you meet all the requirements – which can take anywhere from 6-18 months – then you move on to talking with a recruiter.
Like any career, working in public service has many great rewards. It’s just a different path to navigate getting there.
For more details, check out the panel discussion below from BSides Las Vegas.