Getting rid of the “Lazy Government Worker” stereotype: the upside to a bad economy

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.

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Steve Radick

I think that this is less a function of the bad economy and more due to the fact that the work that the Government does is getting more and more publicity. The private sector has benefited greatly from PR and marketing machines getting and keeping their work in the public eye. The government generally has been lacking in this department because of the tighter budgets and lack of expertise in communications/marketing. Through social media and an increased interest in government activities because of the Obama administration, public servants are not as out of sight/out of mind as they’ve traditionally been. Whereas before, government was only highlighted for when things went wrong, they’re now being highlighted for what they’re doing right. They now have more vehicles with which to tell their own story rather than relying solely on the fourth estate to do it for them. This is what has led to people being more attracted to the government – not necessarily just because they’re offering jobs and the private sector isn’t.

Michaela Holmberg

I wondered the same thing. Part of my job is to use social media to see who’s out there and how we can tap their resources but it’s hard to speak with other government workers when most social media is blocked. There is a fine line of being in the loop of social media or having people wonder why you’re wasting their tax dollars using it. I for one am an optimist. I’m getting my masters in public administration at night and I am surrounded by very capable and energized people who are working for government for the right reasons. Thank you both for the feedback.