I love my job and I'm proud of what I do and the fact that I wrok in public service. However, I sometimes shy away from telling people I'm a state employee if just to avoid their reaction of "oh, you're a state employee so you must work 5 hour days with frequent naps". I've worked in the private and the public sector and I've witnessed star employees and duds in both sectors. Unfortunately, as a recruiter, I've had difficulties attracting top-notch candidates because they've heard about "government employees".
For a while, I thought this reputation would not disappear in my lifetime. What I've found is that people are starting to realize that government can make a difference. It is not all beauracracy and hard working people are starting to get noticed for innovative and cost-efficient strategies. Because of this, the quality of the applicants I've recently seen has gotten much higher. I'm just hoping that this trend will continue in the same direction and we, as government employees, will have the foresight to hire on these "out of the box" thinking applicants to bring in even better ideas and change it up just a little bit more.