You might want to change the world. You might be drawn to more generous benefits. Whatever your reasons, the application process for a government job has some major differences from private sector roles. If you have always wanted to work in government, here are five things you should know before applying.
Education Is Important
Having at least a four-year degree is very important for most government agencies. If you got your degree in public administration and emphasized in criminal justice and public safety, for example, you could be a great asset in certain government divisions that focus on crime or safety. No matter what degree you have, however, there is definitely a place for you in the government. Often times, they care more about you getting the degree rather than what the degree actually is as they will most likely train you in everything you’ll need to know.
Know Your Agencies
There are numerable state and federal agencies that might be hiring. Jobs are also extremely varied, from conservation workers to lawyers to law enforcement to social workers. USAJobs.gov is a good central location to look for jobs with the federal government. Your state agencies and city website will have information about jobs available at the state and local levels. Learn about the different agencies and visit their sites as well, where their listings will be posted. You should also leverage your network if you know anyone who currently is a government employee.
Use Government Terminology
The key words and phrases used by government agencies are often different than what you see in private sector job descriptions. This means you will have to learn “government speak” to some degree when applying. Resumes for government jobs may also need to be formatted differently. This is why it is very important to follow an agency’s guidelines for applying.
Responses Can Take a While
State and federal government agencies often move more slowly than their private sector counterparts. Because of this, it is not uncommon for responses to take time. In some cases, a job offer might not be extended for four to six months. Be patient and do not delete application materials. If you do, you may be caught off guard when an agency contacts you. Plan this probable delay into your life plans as much as possible.
Federal and state employees get pensions upon their retirement, which is different from private sector retirement packages. In fact, federal pensions tend to be much more generous than private sector packages. However, it is important to know the state of the government’s finances. Some states, for example, have budget issues that may force them to offer skimpier retirement pensions in the future. In some positions, you may be eligible to collect social security, and in others you may not.
For the most part, getting a government job is like getting any other job. However, the differences should be considered. This knowledge will help you land your dream job working for the people.