Traps to Avoid When Moving from Private Business to Government Jobs

Here’s some points to keep in mind when considering leaving the private sector for a government job.

With so many jobs still being lost every day, and private business suffering record losses, many Americans are switching from private business and going to work for the government. After all, there is better job security and the benefits are great, right? Making the change from the private sector to the public sector can take a bit of getting use to. And before you make the decision to switch, you want make sure that it is the right decision. There are some traps to avoid when moving from private business to government jobs.

The Salary Trap

One trap you may run into is salary. Yes, before taking any government job, the salary will be discussed along with the job requirements. However, the government operates differently than the private sector when it comes to salary. You may have reached an executive level in private business and now starting a government job, you will lack in seniority, and your salary will reflect it. With so much going on in Washington DC with congress cutting spending, government workers may be looking at salary freezes in the future.

The Accountability Trap

In private business, you may have been your own boss, or you may have had only 1 boss. With a government job, you usually have a panel of bosses. Depending on what your government job is, you are accountable to more than you may be use to or aware of. You may be going into a position believing that you will be accountable to your immediate supervisor, when in actuality, you may be facing job review boards, and sometimes that review board can be a congressional panel. And let’s not forget about the American people. After all, it’s their tax money paying your salary and depending on your job, it may be their tax money you are spending.

Trapped in Red Tape

It’s the government, there is going to be red tape. You may have the belief that you are going to go into your new government job, and show them how to efficiently run your new department, or make positive changes to the procedures in place. Chances are you are operating under a misconception. Chances are you will probably run into a huge obstacle called “red tape”. The government bureaucracy moves slowly most of the time. Chances of your job performance being hindered by “red tape” are great. Your rewarding career can sometimes become very frustrating.

Government Benefits

Everyone knows that Federal jobs come with wonderful benefits. But with congress controlling the purse strings, and the Federal government doing everything possible to cut spending, Federal benefits may soon begin to take bigger hits and more and more of these benefits could be cut out. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that you will have great benefits and pensions for the life of your government job. If congress cuts Federal benefits, then some of those wonderful benefits will disappear.

The Job Security Trap

You may think that because you now have a government job, you have job security. With budget cuts going on all throughout government, you may find yourself unemployed due to a budget cut, or you may be the victim of a salary freeze. Congress is working very hard to cut government spending, they are looking for ways to save money, and the possibility of becoming affected by a budget cut is just as possible in a government job as it is in a private business.

Lack of Resources

Probably one of the hardest traps to deal with when moving from private business to a government job is the lack of resources. Depending on the department you are working for will determine whether there is a lack of resources. Spending for certain departments has been cut and other departments has been increased. With so many Americans out of work, social services has been hit hard and dollars are being stretched.

Qualifying for Advancement

As your new career with the government begins, you may want to think about the ability to apply for and change departments, or other government jobs. One of the traps you may run into during your career is that some of the government jobs are restricted to veterans, or handicapped persons. The government promotes employees mainly based on seniority more so than by qualifications. You may become frustrated seeing a promotion you feel you are far more qualified for go to another applicant because of their seniority.

Government Contracting

If you are a contractor and are thinking of moving from working with private business and becoming a government contractor there are many things to consider as well. The government does things differently. From the way they hire contractors, to the way they manage their contractors, it’s a very different world in government contracting. All government contractors must be registered in the Central Contractor Registry (CCR). There can be so much paperwork and “red tape” involved with contracting with the government, and getting answers can be slow. Soliciting for government contracts can be very time consuming, confusing and extremely frustrating. Being awarded a government contract can be very difficult. You have to have the right contacts, and know the process.

Public service can be a very rewarding career. It can also be a very frustrating career. From the red tape to the budget cuts, there are many factors that can leave you feeling you may have made a mistake in switching from private business to a government job. Before making a final decision about making a career change do as much research as possible. Talk to as many people that you can who are currently working a government job. Get as much information and feedback as possible. There are going to be a lot of adjustments to make and you need to be sure that you can handle the changes. Make sure that you know how to avoid the traps when moving from private business to government jobs.

About the Author

Jason Kay is a professional resume writer and regular contributor to, a professional federal resume service and repository of sample KSA statements.