Looking for an Ideal Job? You May Already Have One

Working for Uncle Sam is a high priority for many job seekers says OPM director Kay Coles James.

A very high percentage of the existing federal workforce will be eligible to retire in the next few years. Most readers are aware of this and, based on our surveys, many readers of FedSmith.com fall into this category.

People who work for an organization for years and decades sometimes develop an edge or cynical attitude. This is probably true in private sector and there is no doubt a number of long-time government employees become cynical about their job or long-time employer.

But here is good news for government recruiters. OPM director Kay Coles James says that young adults want to work for the federal government. In fact, based on a recent survey, more of them want to work for the government than want to work for a private company. For many of these future government employees, a job with the federal government is “ideal.”

The reason this may surprise some is that the news is often filled with complaints about government employment. The problems cited range from contentions that the pay is too low, the health benefits are too expensive and the working conditions are not what they should be.

But at a recent New York City recruitment fair, attendees expressed a preference to work for Uncle Sam rather than a career in the private sector. In fact, it wasn’t even close. Potential recruits preferred to work for the government instead of the private sector by a ratio of 6 to 1.

Almost two thirds (64 percent) of job fair participants at the show said they had more interest in working for the federal government now than they did a few years ago. Only 4 percent had less interest.

Here is what people find appealing about working for the federal government.

— 85 percent of respondents cite “helping people and making a difference”.

— 80 percent of respondents like the job security of federal employment.

— 79 percent think prefer the pay and benefits of a federal job.

— 76 percent like the appeal of serving community and country.

In a briefing at the National Press Club, OPM director James cited similar findings at a recent job fair in Washington, DC. Those attending the job fair were finalists for the President Management Fellows Program. We will spare readers the Monica Lewinsky jokes but this is the same program that used to be called the Presidential Management Intern program.

There is a strong feeling of patriotism among these future government employees as more than half of them indicated that patriotism is a motivating factor in coming to work for the federal government. Also, 96 percent say the benefits package offered by the federal government is competitive with the private sector and there is near unanimous belief that there are advancement opportunities when working for Uncle Sam.

Moreover, a large number of the respondents cited a civil service job as being “ideal.”

With a large number of current employees about to retire, and a large number of job seekers wanting to work for the government, the situation should be ideal. As you will see from some of the articles on the left hand side of this page, the biggest problem may be implementing a staffing system that enables the government to hire people beofre they go elsewhere.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47