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Old 04-11-2011, 09:19 AM
 
Location: USA
1,263 posts, read 1,451,492 times
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What are the pros and cons of each?

I've heard/read that public sector jobs offer great benefits and provide a good work/life balance (no late hours as is typical in Corporate America). I've also taken an interest in the public sector given that it's more service-oriented as opposed to profit-driven.

Unfortunately, I've applied to several university jobs over the past 6 months and have yet to receive a single call back. Seems it's so much easier to get a response from companies in the private sector.

What has been your experience? Are public sector jobs impossible to land unless you "know someone"?
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Old 04-11-2011, 09:31 AM
 
Location: broke leftist craphole Illizuela
10,287 posts, read 15,864,292 times
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Well I've been applying for Fed jobs for years but in my field the private sector treats scientists so terribly everyone wants to work for the Fed so the competition is insane. I recently got a rejection letter stating they had over 1000 applicants.
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Old 04-11-2011, 09:53 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
37,065 posts, read 67,557,348 times
Reputation: 43483
I'm a hiring manager at a public agency, and yes, we do get many applications for every opening, I had over 100 for my last and it was a very specialized job. It used to be that civil service had great job security and benefits, but lower salaries than private. Unfortunately that is no longer true. The benefits are still great though not as before, and there have been government layoffs. We had 30 in 2009 but have done well since and currently have a bunch of openings, but many are paid summer internships.

While cities, states and counties (and even feds) are stuggling with lack
of funds, your best options are those agencies not relying on tax dollars.
Universities are cutting back too, though they still do need to hire people, but they often hire their own graduates first.


Look at local:

Utility Districts
Port Authorities
Airports
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Old 04-11-2011, 11:45 AM
 
Location: The Chatterdome in La La Land, CaliFUNia
39,016 posts, read 21,810,110 times
Reputation: 35988
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wordsmith12 View Post
What are the pros and cons of each?

I've heard/read that public sector jobs offer great benefits and provide a good work/life balance (no late hours as is typical in Corporate America). I've also taken an interest in the public sector given that it's more service-oriented as opposed to profit-driven.

Unfortunately, I've applied to several university jobs over the past 6 months and have yet to receive a single call back. Seems it's so much easier to get a response from companies in the private sector.

What has been your experience? Are public sector jobs impossible to land unless you "know someone"?
Are you looking for academic advising positions? Forgive me if I'm mixing you up with another CD poster. I used to apply to these type of positions all the time while I was in grad school but it wasn't until I graduated and had experience when I actually was taken seriously as a candidate and was called for interviews. As bijoe stated, many universities that rely on public tax dollars are cutting back while the candidate pools are large. If academic advising is truly the field that you are passionate about, then maybe seeking out internships or volunteer experience or maybe considering private universities. Jjust stay clear of the recruitment-type positions as those are usually just sales-oriented as one of my friends found out the hard way...
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Old 10-14-2012, 04:44 AM
 
Location: the Great Lakes states
799 posts, read 2,401,618 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wordsmith12 View Post
What are the pros and cons of each?

I've heard/read that public sector jobs offer great benefits and provide a good work/life balance (no late hours as is typical in Corporate America). I've also taken an interest in the public sector given that it's more service-oriented as opposed to profit-driven.

Unfortunately, I've applied to several university jobs over the past 6 months and have yet to receive a single call back. Seems it's so much easier to get a response from companies in the private sector.

What has been your experience? Are public sector jobs impossible to land unless you "know someone"?
Develop your cover letter and resume, and send it off. When you go to the next job opening, comb through the wording, the qualifications required, etc. and then refine your cover letter and resume. Send it off. Repeat. Eventually as you keep refining your drafts, you'll get your cover letter and resume to be an excellent match for the position.

Several job applications will not get you anywhere. You need to be doing several a day, or at least several a week. Many people are reporting that they get a handful of responses for each 100 resumes they send out.

You could get lucky and happen upon an opening where very few people have applied, or the interviewer went to the same college as you, or there's an emergency need and someone has to be hired within the week. Those situations still occur, so don't give up hope.
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:51 AM
 
2,612 posts, read 5,244,112 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wordsmith12 View Post
What are the pros and cons of each?

I've heard/read that public sector jobs offer great benefits and provide a good work/life balance (no late hours as is typical in Corporate America). I've also taken an interest in the public sector given that it's more service-oriented as opposed to profit-driven.

Unfortunately, I've applied to several university jobs over the past 6 months and have yet to receive a single call back. Seems it's so much easier to get a response from companies in the private sector.

What has been your experience? Are public sector jobs impossible to land unless you "know someone"?
University jobs are very difficult to get. Often they go to someone already in the university, and are advertised just to meet the advertising requirement. I have found jobs in the past by targeting specific places that I wanted to work and then emailing them directly, whether or not they advertised a position. I also did this looking for unpaid internships, and found that I could do an unpaid internship in just about any nonprofit if I asked. Of course, you have to know exactly what you want to learn and what department you want to work in - just offering general labor will probably not get you far, except maybe answering phones. I learned how to research and write grants with an unpaid internship, and could have gone on to work for the company where I learned that (after only a few months), but I was offered work elsewhere for more money. Instead of replying to ads or sending resumes to giant institutions, target smaller places and be more specific in your search.
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Old 10-14-2012, 09:50 AM
 
5,683 posts, read 9,800,035 times
Reputation: 43773
If you apply for jobs offered by the state in which I live, you don't even submit a resume unless they ask you to come in for an interview. The way they decide who to interview is based on the outcome of the civil service exam, which is required for anyone coming into state service the first time, and for certain positions, is also required for current state employees wanting to transfer jobs.

At least here, the civil service exam differs based on what you're applying for. For clerical or administrative positions, they administer a mass test in person about once a month, and everyone's scores from that exam are sent out to every agency that's hiring for those types of positions. Each agency decides from the list of scores who to call in for an interview. The civil service exams for professional level positions are mostly online (a few agencies still ask for a snail-mail hardcopy submission), and they are all essay-type, typically three or four questions pertaining to the details of the applicant's experience, training and judgment.

I've been on exam-review committees for positions in my agency, and the responses I've seen are pretty astounding in terms of their variety. There's nearly always someone who just completely ignores the exam and doesn't fill in any responses. I'm not sure what they're trying to accomplish, because there's no way such a candidate would ever get an interview. The exam instructions always say very clearly "do NOT copy-and-paste excerpts of your resume into the answer fields," but it seems as though at least one or two people ignore that every time. The sad thing is that they don't even take the time to be sure they're pasting in excerpts that are logical in the context. And there is frequently a candidate who does not appear to have any reading comprehension at all, because the answers they give have nothing whatsoever to do with the questions that are asked.

Generally what seems to happen is that out of any given ten exams, two or three will earn scores good enough to interview, another three or four will earn scores that might get them an interview if all the top candidates either interview badly or decline to interview at all, and three or four will go straight into the "TBNT" pile from the beginning.

The university system in this state uses a similar approach for non-academic positions. Academic positions are an entirely different kettle of fish, of course, and require a comprehensive CV along with all sorts of other hoops to jump through. I have a sibling who is a professor in one of the state universities here, and the hiring process she went through bore little or no resemblance to that required of a non-academic state employee.

As to the comment about public sector jobs being preferable to private sector positions, well, that depends. I've worked in both, and each has its advantages and drawbacks. There is also a huge, huge difference in a state job in, say, Indiana vs. a state job in California. In the state where I live, public employee pay levels have been frozen for the past four or five years, and the legislature is ratcheting back sharply on benefits, both cutting what is offered and increasing the cost to the employee, so neither of those is much of a draw here. The biggest benefit I find in public sector work is the work/life balance, because overtime is prohibited and everyone is limited to 40 hours a week. After three decades of 60 and 70 hour work weeks in the private sector, it's like a vacation to "only" work 40.
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:14 AM
 
7,237 posts, read 11,970,571 times
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PROS

*Job Security. Even now, the unemployment rate for government workers is only 4.2%, and since most government workers belong to a union, you have a much lower chance of being laid off than you do in the private sector.

*Excellent Benefits. For most major city, state and federal government jobs, you have some of the best health insurance around. The split, at worst, may be 60/40. In most states it's more like 90/10 or 80/20.

Student Loan Forgiveness. I'm not sure if this applies to state government jobs as well, but if you work for the Federal Government for 10 years, the remainder of your student loan balance will be forgiven.

Great Work/Life Balance. No matter what, in most state/local/federal government jobs you will ALWAYS work an 8 hour shift and you will always have the weekends and holidays off. The exception are those who work in public safety and teachers.

In some cases, state and federal government jobs even pays a higher starting wage than their equivalent private sector jobs.

Also, for those who don't interview well, your Civil Service Exam are weighed most when selecting someone to fill the position.

CONS

*Nepotism. I you think private sector nepotism is bad, public sector nepotism is hell on earth. It's very common to find someone's borthern, uncle, father, sister, cousin, etc. on the payroll of the state, local and city government. This makes it even harder for those who don't have the connections to land the job.

*Veteran Preference. Most state, local and federal government jobs always give preference to veterans when hiring. even if you score a 100% on your test, if a veteran scored 90% they would still be selected for the job before you as 10 additional points would be added to their score on the Civil Service Exam. This is good for those who have served in the army, but bad for the average joe.

*Non-Negotiable Pay Scales. Unlike most private sector jobs, the wages in government jobs are based on established pay scales, so no matter how much much experience or education you have, you will have the same starting wage and raises as everyone else. In many states though (not all), the raises are guaranteed.

Bottom line, it's hard to think of any cons to public sector jobs. There are definitely way more pros than cons. As much as people whine about them on this forum (most likely out of jealousy), I think they secretly would accept a public sector job if they were offered one.
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:16 AM
 
7,237 posts, read 11,970,571 times
Reputation: 5607
Quote:
Originally Posted by MidwesternBookWorm View Post
If you apply for jobs offered by the state in which I live, you don't even submit a resume unless they ask you to come in for an interview. The way they decide who to interview is based on the outcome of the civil service exam, which is required for anyone coming into state service the first time, and for certain positions, is also required for current state employees wanting to transfer jobs.

At least here, the civil service exam differs based on what you're applying for. For clerical or administrative positions, they administer a mass test in person about once a month, and everyone's scores from that exam are sent out to every agency that's hiring for those types of positions. Each agency decides from the list of scores who to call in for an interview. The civil service exams for professional level positions are mostly online (a few agencies still ask for a snail-mail hardcopy submission), and they are all essay-type, typically three or four questions pertaining to the details of the applicant's experience, training and judgment.

I've been on exam-review committees for positions in my agency, and the responses I've seen are pretty astounding in terms of their variety. There's nearly always someone who just completely ignores the exam and doesn't fill in any responses. I'm not sure what they're trying to accomplish, because there's no way such a candidate would ever get an interview. The exam instructions always say very clearly "do NOT copy-and-paste excerpts of your resume into the answer fields," but it seems as though at least one or two people ignore that every time. The sad thing is that they don't even take the time to be sure they're pasting in excerpts that are logical in the context. And there is frequently a candidate who does not appear to have any reading comprehension at all, because the answers they give have nothing whatsoever to do with the questions that are asked.

Generally what seems to happen is that out of any given ten exams, two or three will earn scores good enough to interview, another three or four will earn scores that might get them an interview if all the top candidates either interview badly or decline to interview at all, and three or four will go straight into the "TBNT" pile from the beginning.

The university system in this state uses a similar approach for non-academic positions. Academic positions are an entirely different kettle of fish, of course, and require a comprehensive CV along with all sorts of other hoops to jump through. I have a sibling who is a professor in one of the state universities here, and the hiring process she went through bore little or no resemblance to that required of a non-academic state employee.

As to the comment about public sector jobs being preferable to private sector positions, well, that depends. I've worked in both, and each has its advantages and drawbacks. There is also a huge, huge difference in a state job in, say, Indiana vs. a state job in California. In the state where I live, public employee pay levels have been frozen for the past four or five years, and the legislature is ratcheting back sharply on benefits, both cutting what is offered and increasing the cost to the employee, so neither of those is much of a draw here. The biggest benefit I find in public sector work is the work/life balance, because overtime is prohibited and everyone is limited to 40 hours a week. After three decades of 60 and 70 hour work weeks in the private sector, it's like a vacation to "only" work 40.
Just out of curiosity, is the state you live in Indiana?

I heard Indiana has the lowest paid state employees.

Which is ironic, because OH, MI, and IL have some of the highest paid state government employees in the country (especially accounting for COL).
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:30 AM
 
5,683 posts, read 9,800,035 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 313Weather View Post
Just out of curiosity, is the state you live in Indiana?

I heard Indiana has the lowest paid state employees.

Which is ironic, because OH, MI, and IL have some of the highest paid state government employees in the country (especially accounting for COL).
No, I live in Wisconsin; I referenced Indiana and California because they represent polar opposites in terms of state jobs. A decade ago, state jobs in Wisconsin were perceived as the best you could get, and the competition for a state job was incredible. A lot has changed in the past ten years, though. I took a pay cut when I moved from a private sector position to state employment, and I know I probably won't see a pay increase for the rest of my career. For me, the tradeoff in terms of lower stress and shorter hours was worth the reduction in gross income, but that wouldn't be the case for everyone. And as a result, it has become much more difficult for state agencies to attract and hold on to the best possible candidates for positions.

Your comment about nepotism in your earlier post is valid, but it is also worth mentioning that it all depends on what the private sector calls "tone at the top." If the head of the department, agency, division or whatever embraces cronyism and favoritism, which certainly happens regularly, then the entire entity is going to reflect that. But not all senior administrators reflect that attitude, and not all government jobs are granted as favors. Just like private industry, the bad apples make better press than the good guys do, so they get more attention from the media. There are ethical people working in government jobs, just like there are ethical bankers and ethical lawyers; we just don't often read stories about them, because they'd be pretty boring narratives.
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