Let’s say you are just entering the workforce, are returning after a hiatus, or are working and want a change of employer. Why choose government service? Was there a career expo at your post-secondary education? Did you attend a job hiring fair with government booths promoting vacant positions? Is there a history of government service in your family? Maybe it is because of the security of steady employment and a pension with benefits? Perhaps you want to use it as a springboard to jumpstart your career and gain experience that will get you in with another employer.
Whatever your reason you have, government human resource recruiters have an ever increasingly tough job to recruit top talent before their competition — i.e. every non-government employer.
Government recruiter: Yes, it is an entry-level position. Promotions? No, you do not get automatically promoted as you will have to qualify for, be selected and interview successfully for any other government positions after you enter service. Work from home? No, not an option. Vacation? You start with two weeks but after eight years you will be receiving three weeks paid vacation in addition to your paid holidays. You do get full medical and dental benefits upon starting. We can not pay for your move unfortunately, but… hey, where are you going?
Potential recruit: Well, you see, that company there has offered me twice what you say I would be starting at with a $5,000 sign on bonus. They prefer to promote from within and they are expanding so fast that in a year I will likely be a supervisor or manager. I get a high-end laptop and a smartphone that will let me work from home. I will start with four weeks vacation and five weeks after two years. Full health benefits, profit sharing and 401k. I get an annual training budget too. Did I mention they will pay for a mover?
Government recruiter: Umm… are they still hiring?
Potential recruit: Yep, and I will get a $1,000 bonus for bringing you on too!
Okay so maybe not 100% realistic, but you get a general idea. For example, health professionals like doctors are in high demand. Recruiters may utilize targeted marketing strategies funded by their sponsors that could range from a small village looking for a country doctor to large health corporations and government health authorities.
Let the negotiations begin!
With outmigration from rural areas to urban centres it is proving increasingly difficult to recruit to a community with a demographic profile that does not appeal to young professionals or tradespeople. Communities may find that they need to change their community itself in order to draw people.
Improve this, please?
Governments unfortunately do not often look within to see what they may need to change in order to draw people into service. Common complaints may include the following:
- Difficult or unclear application process
- Unrealistic qualifications like asking for 5 years experience in software that has only been out for a year
- Hiring managers who change the qualifications for applicants after the application deadline has closed
- Lengthy duration between application and being informed of selection for interviewed
- Not being informed of rejection of application and/or interview and reason(s) why
- No consistency in the interview process – some hiring panels may offer the interviewees prep time with the interview questions but at the hiring manager’s discretion
- Hiring panel sizes may vary from one person to multiple people
- Diversity candidates may be able to request a member of a diversity hiring panel if available but only if informed of this fact
- Unsuccessful candidates were not informed of their right to have a post-interview review in order to improve future interviews
- Not being informed of whom is on the hiring panel as there may be conflict of interest if one or more is a reference for the interviewee
Making the grade
Congratulations! You are now a government employee. Depending on if you are part of a union, or perhaps non-unionized, you may get certain benefits. Management or executive may have had to negotiate their pay scales. It is possible to reach the highest level of your pay grade as determined by your years of service. It can be frustrating to be there, unfortunately. With no advancements possible and if your department has limited or non-existent vertical movement, one may need to consider other avenues to advance one’s career if that is your desire.
While you are there, you may as well take advantage of your situation. Discuss your career plans with your supervisor or manager and what supports you need to achieve them. Ask to be part of committees or boards. Seek out a mentor. Improve your soft skills such as public speaking.
Oh, and there is one thing you must never ever do. Please do not eat a One-Pound Hungry Man meal in the lunchroom that the Weight Watchers group utilize for their weekly weigh-in. Trust me, you do not want to ever experience that!
But in the meantime…https://www.govloop.com/resources/category/career/
Ken Lee is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. He is currently a GIS Officer with the GeoNOVA Secretariat of the Province of Nova Scotia with interests in innovation, leadership, policy, diversity, employee engagement, ITIL and Lean 6 Sigma for government. His next step? Let’s find out! You can read his posts here.