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Government Jobs - Advantages and Disadvantages

Updated on October 25, 2015

Government jobs are often very heavily sought after due to their secure nature, solid pay and good employee benefits. While this is all generally true, there are also some downsides. Although a government job can seem like the perfect position, especially during times of economic downturn, it is important to weigh both the pros and the cons.

Advantages

Stable

The number one advantage of a government position is that it provides arguably the highest level of security and stability for their employees than any other type of work. Quite simply, this means that you won’t lose your job once you get it, whereas employees in the private sector are largely at the whim of both the economy and their bosses.

Even when federal employees are accused of of not doing their job correctly, they are able to appeal any negative penalty, ranging from being fired to a reduction in pay, through a specifically-designed board.

Great Benefits

Without a doubt, the second universally hailed advantage of being a federal worker is the benefits. Government employees gain access to special dental care, extended healthcare benefits, maternity leave, paid vacations, and of course retirement benefits.

While benefits are also offered at many private sector positions, they generally never reach the level and scope of ones provides in the civil service.


Solid Pay

Contrary to popular belief, pay for government employees is quite solid. While it doesn’t reach the level of the higher echelon of public sector workers (like a director of finance, for example), it does continue to remain competitive as the costs of living go up, and has room for gradual pay raises.

Furthermore, due to the secure nature of government jobs, pay is likely to continue being steady. Pay in the public sector, on the other hand, can fluctuate heavily depending on both the state of the economy and the company, but you can also be subject to faster promotions and faster increases in pay if you do well. In this sense, the private sector has higher risks with higher rewards.


Good Work Hours

One of the less-known benefits of federal jobs is that the hours are good. Whereas the private sector is often subject to the needs of the company and specific events (such as a sale or a specific deadline), and as such may require frequent overtime and weekend work, civil service jobs tend to remain solid in their 8 hours, 5 days a week model.

Disadvantages

Climbing the Ladder

One of the strongest criticisms of civil service jobs is that they do not allow exceptional employees to progress as fast as they would somewhere else. While this statement may have been overblown, it is still true to an extent; going up the ladder in the government is slower than in the private sector.

The best way to consider this as a potential government employee is to decide whether you are the type of person who is ambitious enough to rise fast, while being content with higher risk, or if you are okay with slower progression, but much higher job stability.

Playing Hard to Get

Another significant downside of government jobs is that they have fewer open positions and generally have a tougher hiring process and requirements. Together, this means that civil service jobs are much more difficult to land than jobs in the private sector.

Many positions require not only a bachelor’s, but often a master’s degree in a specific field or fields, along with an average of 5+ years of related work experience. Some job openings go even further and require a candidate to be registered with a specific association.

The hiring process itself can also be grueling. For example, as a Canadian government website states, “We may ask candidates to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, competencies and other position-related requirements by using additional selection methods such as tests, presentations, role-plays and so on”.

This further goes on to say: “As part of the selection process, you may be asked to come in for an initial interview, which may happen in person or over the phone. We often use a team of interviewers, called a panel”.

Comparing this to the good old one on one interview in the private sector, we can definitely see how landing a job in the government can be a tough thing.


So What do I do?

First and foremost, decide which kind of person you are. In general, work in the private sector reaps higher rewards with much higher risks, whereas jobs in government have lower rewards but much lower risks.

In this sense, people who are ambitious and like taking risks may find a better place in the private sector, where as people who enjoy stability and security may find the civil service more fitting.

Second, consider the overall advantages and disadvantages of both. So there you have it. Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions as usual, and I wish you the best of luck in your career path!

Comments

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    • prashant17july profile image

      prashant17july 

      2 years ago from lucknow

      This is nice article and great advice.

    • profile image

      rosani 

      4 years ago

      not so nice point as the A- LEVEL student deserves or wants

    • profile image

      Melissa 

      5 years ago

      One thing worth mentioning is that federal agencies seldom address poor performance problems and/or equal work for equal pay issues effectively. If you are a good worker expect to be "overused" on a consistent basis. I base these comments on 15+ years of federal employment. As private employment options continue to decrease, public employment exploitation and/or discrimination will likely increase because your options are limited and they (management) know it.

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