A lot of polls and experts say that what workers want most nowadays is security. So what else is new? People always want security. The difference is that in the last couple years, they thought they had it with the pick of any job and being able to name their price. With all that gone, they’re looking for security in a new place-the government.
Since no one believes you can find it in corporate America anymore (not that you ever could), they’re looking at the public sector. Government is, after all, the biggest employer in the country-and hiring.
This year, the federal government will add some 90,000 civilian, nonpostal employees, says an article in U.S. News. These jobs average $52,000 and federal jobs don’t seem to be nearly as vulnerable to economic swings.
There are also jobs at the state and local level, which employ 15 million Americans. Some jobs will even take you overseas.
And although the government hires more clerks and computer specialists than anything else, you’ll find jobs in nearly the same areas as private industry. Listings include openings for engineers, nurses, librarians, landscapers, lawyers, accountants and professionals in marketing, public relations, transportation and planning.
The downside to working for the government includes the pay, which is usually less than the private sector. When it comes to federal jobs, bureaucracy is also a way of life, with decisions often based on politics, not merit.
Getting hired is another thing. “The applications process can be maddeningly slow” and complex, says the article, taking six months or more to hire someone.
Apparently, this is a common occurrence when it comes to government hiring. A man in Calcutta, India who applied for a state government job 34 years ago received a letter this month asking him to come for an interview, says a Reuter’s story.
Although he gave up hope, his family still holds out the possibility that his son may get a government job. So far it’s only been four years since he applied for a job and has not heard back.
If you’re accustomed to being awarded on performance, well, that won’t be the case with the government. Pay tends to be rigidly defined by job and raises are based on seniority.
In my book, people who are so focused on security are barking up the wrong tree. You could end up taking a so-called “secure” job with the government or a private company and it would be a bad fit for you if you focus on this one criterion.
The culture could be a mismatch. The bureaucracy might drive you crazy.
Like the hiring process, decisions that range from the purchase of a new computer to who gets to attend a conference could take forever. You might be motivated and challenged by a system that can’t give you what you need. You could end up so unhappy, you’d leave. Or worse yet, biding your time and counting the days until you can retire and have the life you want.
The only thing you could count on before–and still–are your skills and knowing how they fit into the job market. If you want security, put your energy into defining those skills and pay close attention to what the world needs and where your skills can be used at any given moment.