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A place for Get Rich Slowly readers to ask questions
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It is currently Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:24 am




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 Post subject: Private Job vs. Public Job
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 7:14 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 7:49 am
Posts: 2
Location: VA
Hello all.

I currently work in the private sector (i.e Companies, Consultants) and have a interview for a public sector job (i.e Fed Govt, Military). With the economy in such a slump the industry I work in has taken a large hit (civil engineering). We've face already faced one wave of layoffs, and I am fairly nervous that an another one will be coming.

I know public sector jobs are fairly "stable" jobs in terms of layoffs, however I really don't know much else about them.

Can anyone share some pros and/or cons of working in the public sector vs. the private sector???
I am really looking for comparisons in terms of WorK Quality, Schedule (Flexibility), Salary, Competition, Upward Mobility, etc.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 7:22 am 

Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 7:27 am
Posts: 266
I'm moving from the private to the public sector and am really looking forward to it. Honestly, the pay is much better, and with my goals in mind, it seems to offer a lot more in the way of professional development. Some people may disagree, but any time I've worked for public, not-for-profit entities, I have felt a much deeper personal satisfaction as well.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:44 am 

Joined: Fri May 30, 2008 1:05 pm
Posts: 50
Location: KY
Generally, with public sector jobs you may find that the salary levels are a bit lower for many jobs, especially technical/sceintific jobs. Job security is a plus, unless your in management and find you need to fire someone. It can be next to impossible to remove someone from position once they complete the trail period. I've known individuals whose job security was so good that even when their actual job was eliminated... they still had a job. Retirement can be a bonus too. Right now it is about the best protected pension plan left.

The professional development can actually vary widely from agency to agency and (on federal level) from appointed official's terms. At times I could get any training I wanted, and other times I couldn't get any at all, really depended on the policies of the guy currently in charge. Upward mobility really depends on what level you come in at. Government jobs run at levels and if you start to far up the levels, there's not much room to go without leaving the job security and moving into appointed positions. But starting at mid to lower levels, you'll actually find you can move up a bit more quickly then in the private sectors as many will leave for better paying private positions. These are things best to ask during your interview to find out just how the climante at the work place is.

Schedule flexability can be limited, but I have heard that more agencies are being more flexable in order to attract better employees, so that may have changed since I left.

Work Quality would be the one area that frustrated me the most. With the job security comes the counter edge of often being stuck working with incompetent or just plain awful people. Don't get me wrong, most of the individuals you encounter will be nice enough and many will be good enough to do their jobs. But I often noticed a lack of initiative from the majority and found there was always that one or two individuals that could make life tough for the rest. Obviously, this type of problem exists in the corporate world too, but I've noticed it much less and they don't last as long as they did during my time in government.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 8:11 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 7:49 am
Posts: 2
Location: VA
Thank you both for the information. I appreciate it.

fbchick- did you find it hard to go back to the private sector?

I was speaking to another engineer and he expressed to me that some companies do not find applicants as "attractive" knowing that they are coming from the public sector. He stated that some private companies see working in the public sector like working in a bubble that is impervious to growth and change to the industry.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:13 am 

Joined: Fri May 30, 2008 1:05 pm
Posts: 50
Location: KY
No I did not have any issues moving back into the public sector. Though admittedly I believe that had more of my own doing then anything else. I work in IT and the same sigma can apply. Mostly it's along the lines of public IT folks being too far out of date of current technologies. But instead I found myself in better positions in the government sectors to actually be ahead of most private companies. Most of it was by luck, such as the 20 million dollar test bed for installing and managing a 75+ node highly moble network enabling real time information flow from individual soldier units to battalion commanders, including graphical representation of the moble battle field while in the Army. The management position I held at the state level allowed me to manage a 10 million dollar network infrastructure overhaul, and a 5 million dollar data wharehousing projected aimed at simplifing company EPA regulatory reporting by combining 4 different regulatory systems into one main reporting system. Just by being a bit of a go getter in an environment that generally does not have many of those types, I found it easier to get the type of projects and assignments that made my resume stand out.

When I finally started job hunting in the public sector, I actually had enough job offers that I could pick and choose my ideal position and barter for a more then fair salary. I don't know if there were companies out there that didn't respond to my resume due to all the government level work I had done, but all the ones that did contact me actually liked the fact that I had an enormous range of expirence and knowledge on ALL IT systems and infastructures.

But to be honest, government sector jobs are really only beneficial if you planned to stay in long enough for the pension before moving back to the private sector. For me, both jobs were more a matter of convience, the first job was straight out of college, the second job was after a move to a new state. The move came quickly and unexpectedly, and the state job was the easiest and quickest to hunt down. The job I left for, I'm making twice the pay with half the responsibility. At the state job, I was already topped out on levels and in the top half of the salary range, which left very little room for upward mobility or salary increases.


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