Entry Level Job Seekers’ Perception of Government

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This topic contains 20 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Tricia 7 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #104015

    AfterCollege recently conducted its 2010 snapshot survey of college students and recent grads. One of the questions we asked was about working for the government. Below are the answers to the question and some sample explanations of why respondents answered the way they did.

    Sample reasons why people would work for the government:

    “Potential opportunties for growth”

    “benefits and security”

    “Usually have better benefits”
    “Field of interest, benefits”
    “noble, secure”
    “Because government never lays people off”
    “I have friends who work for the government and are happy with their jobs.”
    “I appreciate public service.”
    “It seems more stable and secure, and has good benefits, than other jobs”
    “pay, benefits, job security”

    Sample reasons why people would NOT work for the government:

    “I am not a US citizen”

    “Too long of a process, I have a life to live!”

    “Always seem to be the first affected by budget cuts, which means lack of supplies, non-competitive pay”
    “The government’s too broad and I prefer smaller companies.”
    “Do not want to live in Washington DC”
    “I think it is time the goverment stops growing and the federal employees i have met are unmotivated to do qualtiy work”
    “Too much paperwork involved”

    We hope this tidbit of data helps those of you in government in crafting your messages as you look to attract and recruit entry-level job seekers.

    You can download a full copy of our report.

  • #104055


    Surprised by the statement “I am not a US citizen”. Working for government at the state level, I contstantly am seeked out at college job fairs by students who are aware (from whom I don’t know) that if ” I come work for you, you will sponsor me”.

  • #104053

    Daniel Honker

    Great post, Roberto. You might want to also check out a recently released report from the Federal CIO Council titled “Preparing For Change in the Federal IT Workforce” about recruiting and managing the Net Generation. It’s pretty spot on about us Gen Y’ers, but it does cite some evidence that Federal agencies have dropped off the top 10 list of ideal employers for college students, which is concerning….

  • #104051

    Tricia, we’ve seen the U.S. Citizenship issue come up for federal jobs that require some sort of security clearance. If you look at engineering students at the M.S. and PhD levels, who possess the skill sets that make them a good fit for R&D-related jobs, a lot of them are foreign nationals. However, federal agencies and government contractors that have these opportunities available often require that candidates be U.S. Citizens. This is no fault of the agencies and it’s a valid requirement, especially when the work involves issues of national security.

    If you’re agency is willing to sponsor candidates, kudos to you.

  • #104049


    We do end up sponsoring, especially technical positions such as environmental engineers.

  • #104047

    Steve Ressler

    Interesting. I guess I had no idea you could work at state/local level if not US citizen. Thats my federal bias for you…

  • #104045

    Michele Costanza

    What did the respondents mean by “benefits”?

  • #104043

    Users didn’t specify. Based on other surveys though, and what we see employers typically advertising to recent grads, the most popular benefits, in order of appeal, are:
    -Tuition reimbursement
    -Relocation assistance
    -Sign on bonuses
    -Training is huge
    -401k or equivalent and matching
    -Health insurance

    I’m sure the Gen Y folks in the group can contribute more on this. It’s always good to emphasize these perks when advertising opportunities.



  • #104041

    Terrence Hill

    Thanks for sharing. I kind of guessed that benefits and security were major motivators. I’m kind of disappointed that they aren’t more motivated by altruistic goals such as making the US a better place to live. Most Federal employees don’t live in DC and I guess the respondents focused on Federal employment (versus state and local) because of the way the question was asked.

  • #104039

    Kevin Carter

    As a 22-year-old, what I’m looking for (more or less in order):
    – Chance to work above my paid grade
    – Challenging work
    – An undefined/new position that I can shape
    – Autonomy
    – A visible connection between what I do and how it affects people
    – Mentors/Chance to learn from directors
    – Advancement
    – Comfortable pay
    – Tuition reimbursement

  • #104037

    Now THOSE are reasonable expectations! I like your ambition and priorities. I think that most of our successful Presidential Management Fellows would agree with you on these goals.

  • #104035

    Neil Tambe

    Interesting information, but I daresay it’s the wrong question? Many would consider applying, but the real crux of this issue is if they apply, and, if given an offer…would Gen Yers accept a job? Moreover, would our generation make a career in government?

    I suppose those are topics for another survey, and then solving those challenges comes next. If anyone has data I would love to see them and then discuss with you! I’ve got a few ideas that I’d love to bounce off someone.

  • #104033

    Marco Morales

    A lot of good feedback from folks who’ve offered comments here. I would say that across all of the cabinets in federal government, the one program that helps those entry level persons to get a job is the Federal Career Intern Program. If any of you know someone who is interested in this, please refer that person to the following web link:


    Good info.

    As for perceptions, I would add that all entry level people should look into the Intern Program and then give their opinion.

  • #104031

    Scott Span

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m curious, did you break out other demographic and diversity factors within the sample size besides age? And how did you define recent grads (graduating this year, graduating past 3 years etc.)?

    As a Gen Y who works in cross generational engagement and communication and who shares many of the views and philosophies of today’s recent grads, I find some of the responses to be predictable, and yet others to be surprising. The majority of respondents said they would look into a Gov’t job, though it appears most of this is for economic reasons, it is still good to see. Sadly the reasons why many would not be interested in a Gov’t job regarding process and time are nothing new.

  • #104029


    We DO have a breakdown by discipline and also by undergrad, grad student and recent grad. As soon as I get this data I will share it with the group. A lot of good feedback here. We will definitely do a more in depth survey on this topic based on everyone’s feedback.



  • #104027

    Orisha Hayes

    Good info! Thanks Roberto for posting this! I represent Generation X. For my generation, we applied to the fed govt while in our last year in college (2003) so we could have a secure job by the time we graduated. Our problem with applying to the fed govt was answering the KSAs. I think my generation and Generation Y are reluctant to apply for fed govt positions because they don’t understand how to answer the KSAs. Maybe OPM or HR within govt agencies can conduct KSA workshops at universities/colleges to assist with the preparation for graduating college students to enter into public service.

  • #104025

    Neil Tambe

    With some of the new reforms put out by OPM, KSAs will be eliminated soon (if not already), correct?

  • #104023

    Wendell Black

    No worries there. I believe KSAs will be eliminated totally by Nov. 1st. Some agencies have already done away with KSAs.

  • #104021

    Orisha Hayes

    That’s what I keep hearing. However, HHS has a KSA questionnaire which consists of “check all that apply”, “true or false”, and 1-2 essay questions. Are you saying these questions will also be eliminated by Nov. 1st?

  • #104019

    Wendell Black

    Actually, the questionnaires that you are describing are the new style questionnaires that I’m seeing replace the old style KSAs which were strictly essay style answers. Like you said, they seem to be a mix of essay questions and check all that apply. DHS ICE utilizes this format for their Criminal Research Specialist and Intelligence Research Specialist positions. The U.S. Army has done away completely with KSAs and only accepts resumes through their Army Resume Builder (Resumix I believe it is called).

    Sorry, that was a little long winded, but to answer your question, the “strictly essay style” KSAs will be eliminated by Nov. 1st. according to OPM. What you will begin to see is questionnaires that will have essay style answers for key components of the job that you are applying for (i.e. if you are applying for an intelligence specialist position, you will have to give an essay style answer for a question that ask about your intelligence background).

    I hope that answered your question. 🙂

  • #104017

    Orisha Hayes

    Yes it did! Thanks Wendell for clarification!

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