5 Tips for Making the Most of Your Government Career

Latonia Page and Rachel Dorman facilitated a discussion on how to Make the Most of Your Government Career at the Next Gen 2015 Conference. Here are their top five tips that you can start using today to further your career in the public sector, whether at the local, state or federal level.

  1. Consider your career journey a matrix, not a ladder – Latonia said to consider your career more of a matrix than a vertical climb and find ways to get the experience you need to be an effective manager and supervisor. For instance, most federal management jobs include contracts so she often looks for someone certified in contract management. Experience in information technology, the hiring process and budgeting are also generally helpful. She recommends talking to your supervisor about working on projects to build competency around these skills.
  2. Do the jobs no one else wants to do – Rachel recommended finding the tasks no one else wants to do, doing them with a great attitude and then doing them better than anyone expected. This is a great way to differentiate yourself from the pack.
  3. Get an executive sponsor – Different than a mentor who you go to for advice and guidance, an executive sponsor is someone higher up in the organization who is familiar with your capabilities and is looking for other opportunities to contribute to your organization at a higher level. This may be a former boss or someone with whom you’ve worked on a project.
  4. Develop peer mentors – Rachel emphasized the importance of peer mentors. She said that peers can lift each other up and help each other out to develop and further each other’s careers.
  5. Soft skills matter – Be sure to describe your soft skills on your resume, in your application and during your interviews. Rachel discussed these being your leadership skills, such as leading people and leading processes. Latonia said that the soft skills – like being kind, ethical and transparent – are things she cannot teach. She always asks the administrative staff how the applicants treated them when they come in for an interview.

Whether you are starting your career or a more seasoned professional, these are five tips that will help further your career. If you participated in the discussion at NextGen, what was your favorite takeaway?

From July 20th – 21st we’ll be blogging from GovLoop and YGL’s Next Generation of Government Training Summit. Follow along @NextGenGov and read more blog posts here.

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