If you think that state, local or US government jobs might be right for you, here’s a complete overview of searching for jobs in the public sector.
By the way, several different terms are used to describe jobs with the government: government jobs, public sector jobs, civil service jobs – they all mean the same thing and will be used interchangeably.
While most of my career has been in the private (corporate) sector, I’m currently a hiring manager in a large (16,000 employee) government agency. This is the second large government agency for which I’ve worked, so I’m fairly qualified to comment on the job search and employment differences between public and private sector jobs.
Many people don’t think to consider public sector (government) jobs in their job search and as a result are excluding a significant percentage of available jobs. Like any employer, the various government entities have their good and bad points.
In some respects, public sector jobs stack up very well against private sector jobs and in other respects not so well. A lot depends on exactly what you’re looking for in a job and the stage of career in which you find yourself.
Looking for state, local or US government jobs is pretty similar to looking for private sector jobs, with a few but important differences.
Look through the categories listed below for a complete overview of the advantages and disadvantages of public sector employment, as well as specific advice based on my experience as a hiring manager in the public sector.
Government Job Opportunities and Where to Find Them
The Application Process for Government Jobs
Salary and Benefits in the Public Sector
Job Security and Working Environment in the Public Sector
Based on my own personal experience in the public sector, plus doing research on what the experts are saying about the job outlook for public sector jobs, here is a recap of what’s happening at the Federal, State and Local level for US government jobs.
Federal Government (US Government Jobs)
Most of the statistics I read say that US government jobs at the federal level are projected to grow by about 2.5 – 3.0 percent through the year 2014.
Job growth generated by increased homeland security may be offset by slow growth or declines in other Federal agencies because of cost-cutting, transferring of programs to state and local governments, and the increased use of private consultants and contractors.
Specialize workers will see a growing demand, in areas such as border and transportation security, emergency preparedness, public health, and information technology.
A study by the Partnership for Public Service, which surveyed Federal department and agency hiring needs for the 2005-2006 period, found that most of the new hires for US government jobs will come in 5 major areas. They are:
- Security, enforcement, and compliance, which includes inspectors, investigators, police officers, airport screeners, and prison guards
- Medical and public health fields
- Engineering and the sciences, including microbiologist, botganists, physicists, chemists, and veterinarians.
- Program management and administration
- Accounting, budget, business, which includes revenue agents and tax examiners needed by the Internal Revenue Service
The Department of Health and Human Services will need health insurance specialists and claims and customer service representatives to implement the Medicare Prescription Drug benefit. Patent examiners, foreign service officers, and lawyers also are in high demand.
The distribution of Federal government jobs will continue to shift toward a higher proportion of professional, business and financial operations, and protective service workers.
Employment declines will be the greatest among office and administrative support occupations and production occupations, due to increasing office automation and contracting out of these jobs.
State and Local Government
Government jobs at the State and local level are projected to increase 11 percent during the 2004-14 period.
An increasing population and State and local government assumption of responsibility for some services previously provided by the Federal Government are fueling the growth of these services.
Professional and service occupations accounted for over half of all jobs in State and local government. Most new jobs will stem from steady demand for community and social services, health services, and protective services.
For example, increased demand for services for the elderly, the mentally impaired, and children will result in steady growth in the numbers of social workers, registered nurses, and recreation workers. There will also be strong demand for information technology workers.
Employment of management, business, and financial occupations is projected to grow at about the same rate as overall employment in State and local government.
Employment in office and administrative support occupations in State and local government is expected to remain close to current levels as these functions are increasingly outsourced to the private sector.