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Old 09-04-2008, 09:31 PM
 
268 posts, read 817,188 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rei View Post
Not all gov't jobs are created equal! Not all are boring and unsatisfactory. It depends on what kind of work you do, and who you're working for.
I agree too. You could do both. I know folks who started working for the gov and retired on a sweet pension then started another career in either more of the same or some other kind of job.
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Old 09-04-2008, 11:13 PM
 
Location: from houstoner to bostoner to new yorker to new jerseyite ;)
4,084 posts, read 12,679,286 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Southernkomfort27 View Post
I agree. In addition, there is a career ladder available for ambitious and hard working employees. I used to work as a caseworker. and opportunities for advancement occurred frequently. And the work is anything but boring!
Yes, government jobs vary. Not everyone is stuck sitting behind a desk all day as a paperpusher!
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Old 09-05-2008, 06:21 AM
 
5,680 posts, read 10,332,100 times
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I'm in a mixed marriage: my spouse is a state employee and I work for a private sector employer. I can see pluses and minuses to both.

Working for the state, the benefits (particularly the pension program) can be a whole lot better than many private sector jobs. On the downside, a lot of legislators in our state see those benes as great ways to cut the state budget, and the benefit package here has already eroded significantly from where it was 10 years ago.

Advancement can be problematic when working for the state. Even if a position opens up above you that you are perfectly qualified for, in all likelihood, the state's rules mandate that the position MUST be advertised and that you have to apply for it along with everyone else. Promotions don't happen in state government, or at least not in our state.

Pay scales with the state generally increase at a much slower pace than in private industry. If you are not particularly hurting for money, that may not be a problem, but if your personal economic plan calls for you to be earning 50% more than you are now in another 10 years, you may wish to rethink state employment.

Work expectations in state employment are a definite plus. My spouse walks out the door every morning at 7:30 and is home by 4:45, while my work day is routinely 9 or 10 hours long, and up to 12 or 13 hours during the extremely busy seasons of the year. I know that state employees have a reputation for being less hard-working than their private sector counterparts, too, and while I don't think that is universally true by any means, a lot of state workers do fit that stereotype.

Unless there's a huge budget-cutting exercise underway (and more on that in a moment), it is almost impossible to get fired from the state. That can be both a plus and a minus: if your boss is having a bad day, s/he can't fire you on the spot just because, but it also means that if someone in the department is lazy or downright incompetent, it is next to impossible to get rid of them.

One of the big things to be wary of with state employment, though, is the budget. About 5 or 6 years ago, our governor got ambitious and laid off several thousand state workers - just walked them out the door with no severance or any other compensation. The repercussions for other state employees were significant, for a variety of reasons.

First of all, if a state employee gets laid off, they can "bump" another employee with less seniority and take their job. My spouse's office still has some of those legacy employees around, in fact, doing jobs for which they are woefully unqualified, but they have them because they had enough seniority to kick the previous holder of the position out the door.

Even for the remaining employees who didn't get bumped, there was an impact in terms of workload. For the better part of three years, my spouse was doing his own job plus the jobs of two laid-off purchasing agents, and he was a seriously disgruntled person for most of that time.

And the most frustrating thing of all is that a significant number of the laid-off employees were immediately taken back on by the state as contractors, doing the same jobs that they had been doing, but billing the state three or four times as much per hour as they had been earning on the state's payroll. Yes, the guv "saved" the state a big chunk of payroll expenses - but then he turned around and spent that much and more on contractor fees.

And this leads into the biggest frustration that I hear about (and hear about, and hear about) with state employment: politics. Worksite politics exist everywhere, of course, but the problem is orders of magnitude worse when you're working for the state. Ultimately, there is someone at the top of your department who is either elected or else is a political appointee of an elected official, and that person's agenda has absolutely nothing to do with whatever you might think the agency's real purpose should be. The people at the top are focused entirely on winning the next election, either for themselves or for their patrons in office, and that sets the tone for EVERYTHING that happens in the department. If the guy at the top screws up, he won't be the one that gets canned; he'll find a sacrificial lamb in the department to blame instead, and I've seen instances where that sacrificial lamb not only gets fired but also prosecuted for the misdeeds of the head honcho.

On the private sector side, unquestionably benefits are likely to be less generous. It's possible to find a private sector job with great benes, but it's not easy. On the upside, pay scales generally increase at a faster rate, and promotions are routine. Work hours can be a lot longer, but that can also lead to better compensation.

A big downside to private sector work is that it is often far more responsive to a volatile economy than government work. If you are in the kind of work that's going to continue no matter what (the grocery business, for example), you will be somewhat insulated from that, but the luxury industries experience huge slumps during economic downturns.

No easy answers here, I'm afraid, but hopefully some data to help you make a good decision. Good luck to you!
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Old 09-05-2008, 08:48 AM
 
146 posts, read 566,265 times
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To all who say that government jobs are boring and not challenging: 007 was a government employee too
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Old 09-07-2008, 12:41 AM
Rei
 
Location: Los Angeles
494 posts, read 1,760,963 times
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Quote:
One of the big things to be wary of with state employment, though, is the budget. About 5 or 6 years ago, our governor got ambitious and laid off several thousand state workers - just walked them out the door with no severance or any other compensation.
IMHO, if a gov't is experiencing a budget problem, that only indicates that the economy is not doing well. If the economy is not doing well, private jobs will be impacted as well.

The key here is not gov't or private, but rather what FIELD one is working in.
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Old 09-07-2008, 09:18 AM
 
5,680 posts, read 10,332,100 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rei View Post
IMHO, if a gov't is experiencing a budget problem, that only indicates that the economy is not doing well. If the economy is not doing well, private jobs will be impacted as well.

The key here is not gov't or private, but rather what FIELD one is working in.
Actually, at the time our state's economy in general was doing very well. The state's budget was stretched because of some major projects that went over budget, and the governor wanted to appease those in the legislature who were screaming about "lazy government workers and a bloated state payroll." So he fired people and got them off the payroll, then rehired 2/3 of them as independent contractors at four times the cost of the payroll he just "saved."

My point is that politics impacts any job situation anywhere, but it happens a whole lot more when you work for a government entity. Benefits are generally better in state employment, but the political fallout is a significant negative factor, and someone considering a decision between private industry or state employment should be aware of both the pluses and minuses.
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