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Old 10-18-2008, 11:37 PM
5,457 posts, read 12,669,089 times
Reputation: 5497


Have any of you ever been employed as a result of posting for a job in the US Federal Government's job site?

I see they have tons of jobs, and was curious as to why they have so many, yet so many US citizens are unemployed. For those that did get a job through the Federal Government, was it easy to get a job, are the benefits good, or are there benefits that are unknown to non civil service citizens?

I've looked at jobs that are comparable to what I do (IT), and no surprise to me, the government jobs do not pay anywhere near what I earn. However, there are some that are close enough for me to at least raise an eyebrow. I can only assume that these jobs are really meant for ex military personnel, yet they are open to US citizens. I know even in my company, jobs are posted publicly, yet there is a wink, and a nod for someone that is targeted, the HR department just posts to fulfill equal opportunity laws.

My situation is that I'm in my mid forties, I've a good career with a large company and have a good income, I can't complain really. My wife and I each earn good money, and have put away a good amount of it. I never thought it would happen, but I'm not so concerned with money these days as I am about doing something I want for a change.

So, I was looking at the Federal Government job site, looking at something that would get me (and family) to a different country working for the US government. I see jobs out there, but I don't know a soul who works for the Federal Government to be able to shed any light on the matter.

It may be I'm too old, but as I said, I've no one to ask. My wife is not a US citizen, she's a citizen of a Scandinavian country, so she can work anywhere in the EU pretty much. We've nothing to loose, and only a great experience to gain from looking into something like this.

Any information would be appreciated. I apologize for the long post.

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Old 10-19-2008, 07:15 AM
Location: Pittsburgh, USA
3,133 posts, read 8,332,967 times
Reputation: 1085
I worked at a veterans hospital in the 1990s. There was always word of mouth that the fed had a hiring freeze on. HR would post jobs available in a not so conspicuous spot in the basement, and who would get them was almost always decided on ahead of time. People already working there had connections and would get their friends jobs. Some lived two counties/over 100 miles away.

What I noticed was the govt. was always paying more than the private sector plus they figured 1/3 of a person's salary was how much their benefits (would) cost. Common secretary jobs started at $32,000 but psychologists with a Ph.D. started at only $38,000. This is around 1993/4. There was over 1,000 employees, 32 buildings and only 3 had patients in them. They spent a lot of time changing telephone systems and unnecessarily moving offices from one place to another. Each new director wanted to mark their prescence with pet projects which they insisted on micromanaging and had to be redone. The vast majority of employees didn't work much and complained a lot., were very lazy. There was doctors there doing research, usually in conjunction with the Univ. of Pittsburgh. They seemed to do and know not much for the $100,000+ they made and were going off to conventions all the time. I worked in media affairs and we often prepared some of their presentations. Psychology 101 stuff.

Veterans get preferential hiring, disabled first, but weren't always number one on the top 5 list. For a spell people from India had the preferred spot. Black women had it for years then were demoted to the all women group. Spanish American War veterans were preferred over more recent vets. Many people say such a list doesn't exist but I've seen it many times. All that private stuff was quite interesting to read. My supervisor got these memorandums because we worked out of the directors office. It was frustrating and disappointing to learn all that I did and to witness so much waste.

One day we got a call that mistakes were made in the budgets and we had a couple hours to spend $85,000 or lose it to someone else. We also were in charge of the medical library. They got on the phones and were ordering tons of masgazines, blank VCR tapes, tons of paper, picture frames, coffee cups, about anything that could remotely be associated with our departments. We were only a 6 person staff and there were many others and 170 VA hospitals so imagine how much money was probably mostly wasted across the country in only two hours.

I tried off and on for years to get hired and gave up. Then I decided I would volunteer and be able to choose where I worked. Media affairs was a lot of writing, editing, and desktop publishing so it was a lot of fun. It took awhile to get them to give up their 2 font b/w only Xerox machines and go with Pentium 90s which were the latest thing available at the time. I was volunteering about 4 hours a day then after a couple weeks stopped going in every day and cut my hours. When they said they were disappointed like I was letting them down I said it was a gift, that it wasn't like they were paying me anything. I was immediately hired but as a contract employee and earning $3,000 - $4,000 a month. I worked a lot of overtime, but no benefits. Once they offered me a job as a regular employee working in the mail room. It was a dungeon and would have bored me to death.

This was a psychiatric hospital. In the regular medical hospital the people worked pretty hard and were understaffed. This is the only experience I have working for the govt. aside from two years in the army. I hated the army but got to go to Hawaii, Alaska, Tokyo, etc.

I doubt you need to take a civil service test to work in the laundry or wash trays in the mess hall. Those jobs paid well over minimum wage (plus benefits and every holiday off or double pay) and the people getting those jobs should have been happy to have them. They still complained even though they were barely employable. I don't know of any bennies they get that you wouldn't already know of. Retire with 100% income after 20 years. They try talking you into retirement after 17 years and taking 93%. You keep your health insurance and maybe other things I forgot about. A few people there had retirement income from a previous job elsewhere and were near having their twenty years in there while still being relatively young.

In our IT dept. nobody was a veteran. They did their jobs well enough although didn't seem to know very much. PCs were still kind of new then. The other hospital used MACs. If you get in a place you'll be able to see the jobs when they are fresh. None of them ever made it outside the facility where I worked. Knowing someone, especially in HR, is a definite big plus. You aren't too old, that would be age discrimination, wouldn't it? They should know older people are more dependable and work harder. Coming from the private sector you should be welcome.
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Old 10-19-2008, 11:26 AM
5,457 posts, read 12,669,089 times
Reputation: 5497
Default Thanks!


That was a great post, very informative and enlightening, at least for me. Thanks for shedding light on the matter. I had a clue that the process to dole out the jobs was somewhat similar to how the civilian employers handle the process, often with a wink and a nod as I mentioned.

Interestingly, at my company, most of the higher sought after positions are held by senior IT employees such as myself, and when we had a vacancy, my co-workers wanted to bring in another "friend" from a different department. I knew the other person as well and know he would have been a great asset to the group, but I also had to be honest with the fact that the group needed new blood. So I lobbied to hire in a very much younger person, not in favor with anyone, including myself. It was a decision everyone agreed with only after the new person started. I state this fact only to lend credence to your observation that certain jobs are "saved" and offered to friends, or even family in some cases.

I'm not sure what range the doctors income was that you mentioned, other than to say over 100K, but unfortunately in this case, my income exceeds 100K also, so if they only pay doctors that much, I don't expect they would pay IT Analysts/Project Managers that much.

However, as I said, at this stage in my life, money is always important, but it is not as important to me as it once was. I may change my mind after it becomes clear what the effects of the economic mess is to me, but in general, I've seen some 85K jobs out there on the jobs site. The problem for me is that 85K may sound nice, but not in Washington D.C. area. 85K in Texas, or Louisiana would be good though.

I think I will apply for one of those high paying jobs in DC anyway, just to see what happens. I'll update this thread if I find it in the future.

Thanks again.
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:20 PM
Location: New York City
2,814 posts, read 6,017,364 times
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the gov't is paying more these days than they did in the 90's. if you are a professional you will be paid well.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:31 PM
5,457 posts, read 12,669,089 times
Reputation: 5497
Does anyone care to comment on job security of the Federal Government? In the civilian world, there are always looming storm clouds called layoffs. It is like the wheel of fortune, sometimes it benefits one to take a package (my company still gives those), others not so good.

Is it just as easy to be laid off from a civil service job?

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