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  1. Junior Member Registered Member
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    Default Public Sector vs. Private Sector

    Anybody prefer one over the other? I just did an interview yesterday with a public sector company and the people who were interviewing me had never heard of a bluetooth device interfering with a WiFi signal. Public sector seems to be way farther behind than private.
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  3. Completely Clueless TechGromit's Avatar
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    #2
    Depends, I known some really intelligent, on the ball, cutting edge technology Federal employees and others that couldn't screw in a light bulb without directions. The problem with most public sector government jobs is, they are life time jobs, unless they really screw up. They do not have to put a lot of effort in to sharpen there skills and keep up with technology like a private sector employee does. Public employees just have to learn just fast enough to keep there jobs, and the bar is set pretty low.

    When you work in the private sector, if your not working to improve yourself, sooner or later, when layoffs come, your gone. This is why most people go into panic mode when there's any rumor of layoffs. Employees that keep there skills up to date, don't panic nearly as much, because they know they WILL find another job elsewhere. For the private sector employees that do not keep there skills up to date, finding another job that pays as much as there last job paid, is far from ensured.
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    I'm sure some parts of the Federal government are on point in terms of pay and career advancement, but overall the government is poorly run and is bound for a major slash in it's budget someday. Not saying that private jobs are more secure, because they are not. Private sector does tend to pay more though.

    My main issue with public sector is how inefficient it is. I had a friend in school who worked a federal job and he told me stories of how a lot of high ranking people (GS-13 and up) would show up for work late and leave early. Every day. The only way they could get rid of those employee's was to promote them up and to a different office. Pathetic. Working for federal law enforcement or an intelligence agency would be pretty awesome though, especially for a resume builder.
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    #4
    Quote Originally Posted by ITSec14 View Post
    a lot of high ranking people (GS-13 and up) would show up for work late and leave early. Every day. The only way they could get rid of those employee's was to promote them up and to a different office. Pathetic. .
    I know where I'm applying to next!
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  6. Senior Member Deus Ex Machina's Avatar
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    #5
    It depends on the state you are working for, especially in terms of the state economy. Working public sector in a state like Mass is probably pretty nice right now- No urgent need to cut costs, and blue horizons ahead.

    Then you have states like Connecticut and Illinois, where the economy is faltering. There is no point to working public sector in a faltering state, because you will experience much of the same job-insecurity and anxiety you would get in private, and with a markedly lower salary. It sucks...

    So your answer will vary based on the state you are interviewing in. Pay attention to current and future trajectory of your state.
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    #6
    Two words for government: waste and corruption (that's primarily based on Chicago).
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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by ITSec14 View Post
    I'm sure some parts of the Federal government are on point in terms of pay and career advancement, but overall the government is poorly run and is bound for a major slash in it's budget someday. Not saying that private jobs are more secure, because they are not. Private sector does tend to pay more though.

    My main issue with public sector is how inefficient it is. I had a friend in school who worked a federal job and he told me stories of how a lot of high ranking people (GS-13 and up) would show up for work late and leave early. Every day. The only way they could get rid of those employee's was to promote them up and to a different office. Pathetic. Working for federal law enforcement or an intelligence agency would be pretty awesome though, especially for a resume builder.

    This! Sad but true.
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    #8
    Quote Originally Posted by gespenstern View Post
    Two words for government: waste and corruption (that's primarily based on Chicago).
    As a native of Boston, Massachusetts. It pretty much describes the Comm of MA and the City of Boston.
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    #9
    I've worked for the State of Texas for 12-13 years. Before that, I worked in the private sector at Motorola and other companies. What the person above said is true regarding the private sector and layoffs. In the early '90s at Motorola, I taught myself HTML and developed my division's intranet. My bosses had never heard of the internet. Go figure! My continual maintenance of that saved me from one layoff. I also had an extensive Unix background and served as admin for my group, which took the heat off of the real Unix admins. That also helped to save me. I was a technical writer that chose to learn more than was required of my job. Eventually, they got me. Eventually, in the corporate world, many people get laid off at least once in their career. When it comes down to it, it's all about money. If you're in the corporate world, do whatever you can to learn and advance in your career.

    In state gubment, I've known only a few slackers who took advantage of the system. And yes, some agencies are a little behind the times when it comes to training and technology. And pay, too. Typically in gubment, budgets are small, and state agencies can't match corporate paychecks and don't give too many merit increases. The best strategy is to stay at a job long enough to get experience and then move to another agency. As I said, budgets are low, which means there is usually not much money available for training and advancement. I'm lucky in that my agency actually does pay for training and certification. But I'm also filling in the gaps with Udemy, Cybrary, and others.

    We're not all slackers. My boss is the hardest working person I know. Why do we stay in the public sector? We enjoy serving the citizens rather than just making the big guy richer while worrying about layoffs. Disclaimer: I'm not condemning anyone working in the private sector.
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    #10
    It's hard to categorize "public" just like it's hard to categorize "private". Private has small to huge, manufacturing to banking to healthcare, each with its own peculiarities. In the same way, public has its different categories. Municipal to state to Federal, city to utilities to big Federal agency to supporting overseas DOD and State sites. A U.S. embassy and a city might have the same number of staff using the infrastructure but they would be vastly different in required skill-sets and environment.

    Public will often be a bit behind private, in large part because they value stability and don't have the money to make bleeding-edge stable. There is quite a bit of outside the box thinking required for some public positions though. How do you support a place 6000 miles away that has a 2mbps satellite link with a lot of packet loss and jitter, where an AV signature update can take 20 minutes.

    Yes, there are those public employees that are "retired-in-place" (RIP) but there are those that have a mission and believe in it.
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    #11
    Quote Originally Posted by tedjames View Post
    And yes, some agencies are a little behind the times when it comes to training and technology. And pay, too. Typically in gubment, budgets are small, and state agencies can't match corporate paychecks and don't give too many merit increases.
    This hasn't been my experience in the federal government. While a similar position might start out lower than a similar private sector position, federal employees get merit and step increases. Work long enough at any position, these numbers really start to add up. I know Computer specialists that are making over 100k a year, where a similar private sector job would pay 50k at the most. Having the ability to continue to work in the same job for years without ever having to worry about layoffs, eventually they are far ahead of there private sector counterparts.
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    #12
    I work with the fed. govt and will attest to the skill and knowledge of these folks. Very knowledgeable and really care about their jobs.
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  14. Senior Member dmoore44's Avatar
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    #13
    Quote Originally Posted by ITSec14 View Post
    Working for federal law enforcement or an intelligence agency would be pretty awesome though, especially for a resume builder.
    Eh, it's not much of a resume builder. You do wind up with some pretty awesome stories though.
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    #14
    More morons in the public sector that are harder to fire compared to private sector. That's the only thing I miss about the private sector, It's much easier to get rid of dead weight. You can do this in the public sector but that would mean your supervisor actually has to supervise.

    I like working in the fed because of the benefits but damn I wish I was on a better team.
    Last edited by higherho; 08-30-2017 at 04:22 AM.
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    #15
    Not sure of your location or what segment of public sector, I've worked in both commercial and public sector, specifically I will tell you this, being employed at a federal agency won't pay nearly as much as working for a Federal Systems Integrator (FSI), I work for a FSI. Also, depending on the segment you work in the government, which contract / department you work on, could make a huge difference in how much exposure you get, and how well funded the contract or program might be.

    If you work for a FSI, and work on a contract / program, when the programs near their end of life, the funding isn't there, and again, depending on the scope of the contract, you could have a cool title like "Storage admin" but in reality all you do is look at reports. My advice, 1. Don't work for the agency directly and 2. Do as much homework as you can by talking to the folks on the ground. 3. Be careful asking too much if its anything in the intelligence space.
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    #16
    I have a question for those who have worked for both the public and private sectors...

    Would you say it's more difficult to get a job in the private sector after having worked for the public sector? The other way around? Both? Or is it not difficult either way?

    I've heard from a friend of mine who works in a state government job that's it's been hard for them to find jobs in the private sector. Just wondering if it has anything to do with private sector jobs not wanting to hire government employee's.
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  18. Surf Guitar Guy tedjames's Avatar
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    #17
    I've known plenty of people who left public for private. Of course, they were all younger. I've noticed some ageism in the private sector that doesn't appear to exist here in state employment. My agency has hired people of varying ages. I've been here for two years, and I'm 52. We've hired others in their 60s.
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    #18
    Quote Originally Posted by ITSec14 View Post
    Would you say it's more difficult to get a job in the private sector after having worked for the public sector? The other way around? Both? Or is it not difficult either way?

    I've heard from a friend of mine who works in a state government job that's it's been hard for them to find jobs in the private sector. Just wondering if it has anything to do with private sector jobs not wanting to hire government employee's.
    It all depends on your experience and if it's transferable to corporate. If your specialty is conducting FISMA audits, good luck. If your experience is managing 100 people who handle enterprise operations then you have a good shot at a Director of IT, maybe a VP with 250k+ salary.

    Quite honestly, corporate doesn't give a flying rat's ... where you got your experience. If your experience is useful, they will pay.
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    #19
    When you say public vs private, are you referring to government vs a regular company? Government contractors can be another route if you want to work in the public sector, but they generally pay better and can have other product lines or areas in the event of cutbacks.

    Anything in the public sector will move slower but it can depend on the company. Also, public faces more regulations overall so that can be annoying.
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