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going from public sector to private sector

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
It seems that most of my friends and acquaintances that are having the most trouble in this economy are the ones with a public sector / non-profit background. Then I read this piece:

http://www.businessweek.com/managing..._career+change

Quote:
"He said: Public sector hires never work out,'" she told us. "They can cross the border into the business world, but they never seem to grasp the culture.'"

Do you toss public sector resumes in the trash when you get them?
post #2 of 7
No, because not all public sector is not for profit or undesirable.

I worked for a mining research division in the federal government's principle research organisation, the CSIRO, which is held in quite high regard internationally.

Although we were majority funded by government, industry kicked in as well and often we undertook consulting jobs. The resources available to us were second to none.

Ok, the pay was pretty bad compared to the private sector, and the hours were really cruisy and stress free, but the technical knowledge that I gained in that environment was invaluable and helped me complete my PhD.

I moved back into the private sector mainly because of the money, and because I was getting a bit fed up with being given no deadlines or pressure, it sort of made my job feel aimless. I agree to a certain extent that long term employees where I worked might crash and burn in the private sector, but it really depends on what department you are in. Most of the guys that were in my team went on to private sector jobs.
post #3 of 7
People in many public sector careers go on to thrive in the private sector depending on your field and whether you are moving to a transferrable position. I'd say it's important to know what you want and leverage any experience you gain (like public sector) to get you there. IF planned and executed right it shouldn't be a massive problem.
post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterOfReality View Post
No, because not all public sector is not for profit or undesirable.

Although we were majority funded by government, industry kicked in as well and often we undertook consulting jobs. The resources available to us were second to none.

+1. I read the article, and I agree with a lot of what was written, but it really does depend on the department you're in, and what you do. Examples off the top of my head:

1. A buddy of mine works in an in-house management consulting arm of the federal government. They get a basic operating budget like any other department or agency, but they're expected to network with other departments to get contracts to cover the rest. Employees above the analyst level are expected to bring in business, and managers have performance targets (one guy who interviewed me told me his target for the FY was $1 million in new business).

2. Our statistics bureau operates, more or less, on a cost recovery basis. Their analyses are available to other government departments and the private sector, but you have to pay for it. This is supposed to spur better analysis.

3. Our postal service operates like a business - which partly explains why shipping from Canada is so much higher. Canada Post has to compete with private carriers for business, it tries to offer innovative services, and has been profitable.

Anyhow, my $0.02.
post #5 of 7
I think it depends greatly on your department/sector. The public sector is big and there's tons of jobs that are in demand in the private sector; economists, accountants, building managers, environmental engineers, etc. I work in supply chain/procurement in the federal government, mostly doing construction and infrastructure projects that are funded by the federal government. My job mostly consists of liaising with private companies, negotiating contracts, negotiating settlements when contracts go awry, trying to keep complaints out of court, as well as streamlining procurement and supply chain processes. There's plenty of bureaucracy in there as well but it's pretty interesting for the most part. As far as I know that's pretty transferable to any number of sectors in private industry because most industries have a supply chain/procurement function. A few of my colleagues have transferred into the private sector in the last few years and they haven't had much of an issue doing so. On the other hand, people working in state/federal relations, policy analysis, or anything like that might find it tougher to jump ship because private industry is much less heavy on those types of jobs than the PS. In general I think that the more contact your department/sector has with the business world or the more your department/sector resembles a business model, the easier it is to transfer to the private sector.
post #6 of 7
A stint in regulation enforcement/compliance is always a good thing on a resume.

I think one's career path is much more important. I mean, 20 years at the same job, in the same department is not impressive. Twenty years with ever expanding scope and scale is fine.
post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post
A stint in regulation enforcement/compliance is always a good thing on a resume.

I think one's career path is much more important. I mean, 20 years at the same job, in the same department is not impressive. Twenty years with ever expanding scope and scale is fine.

And therein lies one of the big problems with the public sector, namely that the career arc is usually very gradual (read slow). HAving any type of serious management responsibilities before 8-10 years is difficult in most areas and doing the same thing for 10-12 years if certainly fairly common. I think that's one of the main reasons why young people leave the public sector, at least in my experience.
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