Government jobs

I have just began to get a weird urge to pursue a government job, Department of Defense. Does anyone have any experience with government jobs that can give me advice? Mainly, what are pros and cons of private sector vs. government? Thanks
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  • zenhoundzenhound Posts: 93Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    I don't have experience with federal jobs so hopefully someone else can comment on that. On the state level one of the biggest differences is there's just no money. To the point that of the three AC units we have in our computer room, two are now broken and they're saying it's not in budget to fix them. Oh and no raises for the last four years. Yay.
  • Brain_PowerBrain_Power Posts: 163Users Awaiting Email Confirmation
    I can tell you the job application and hiring process through USAjobs.com is exhausting and requires a tremendous amount of patience before you are even interviewed. Most of the new hires are from connections or networking. I tried for two years to get hired by one of DOD Intel agencies and have sense given up due to multiple factors.
  • SteveLordSteveLord Posts: 1,717Member
    (State Level) In my state, we have all been getting raises and/or cost of living adjustments. And departments are still hiring people (with a few IT in there as well). Primarily application developers/programmers though (SQL, Java, .NET, etc.) Desired education is bachelors degree in IT and typical experience is at least 3-5 years.

    Unfortunately, we are re-consolidating IT into 1 division....which does not seem to be hiring people yet to accommodate the new responsibilities. I am guessing they are waiting on when the new CIO position is filled so there will be more direction.
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  • joshmadakorjoshmadakor Posts: 495Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I can tell you the job application and hiring process through USAjobs.com is exhausting and requires a tremendous amount of patience before you are even interviewed. Most of the new hires are from connections or networking. I tried for two years to get hired by one of DOD Intel agencies and have sense given up due to multiple factors.
    That's discouraging...Did you have a 4-year degree at the time? I heard Federal/DoD jobs really like you to have that 4-year degree.
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  • tpatt100tpatt100 Posts: 2,989Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    I can tell you the job application and hiring process through USAjobs.com is exhausting and requires a tremendous amount of patience before you are even interviewed. Most of the new hires are from connections or networking. I tried for two years to get hired by one of DOD Intel agencies and have sense given up due to multiple factors.

    I sometimes apply through USAjobs. Sometimes I feel like they should give me a Starbucks coupon for a free mocha for going through the application process.

    I always seem to get opportunities in other states for DOD government work but noway I would want to move.
  • joshmadakorjoshmadakor Posts: 495Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    tpatt100 wrote: »
    I sometimes apply through USAjobs. Sometimes I feel like they should give me a Starbucks coupon for a free mocha for going through the application process.

    I always seem to get opportunities in other states for DOD government work but noway I would want to move.

    Were the positions not good enough to move for?
    By the way, are you a veteran? I'd be interested in using USAJobs to find work in another county some day, but I'm thinking most of the positions only hire existing govt/veterans with a clearance
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  • higherhohigherho Posts: 882Member
    techie2012 wrote: »
    I have just began to get a weird urge to pursue a government job, Department of Defense. Does anyone have any experience with government jobs that can give me advice? Mainly, what are pros and cons of private sector vs. government? Thanks

    Do you mind Contacting government jobs? quite possibly the easiest way in. Private sector pays more (typically) and most of the hands on technical work is not done by government employees but contractors.
  • techie2012techie2012 Posts: 150Member
    I think I am a person that just enjoys challenges and it may be the only reason that I would actually try to get a DoD job. That and from what I hear, the benefits are amazing. However, I don't like the fact that in the process of trying to get one, the government would be trying to find out every second of my 23 years on this planet as a part of the background check. Not that it is a bad 23 years but I would rather keep my relationships, religious beliefs etc to myself.
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  • higherhohigherho Posts: 882Member
    techie2012 wrote: »
    I think I am a person that just enjoys challenges and it may be the only reason that I would actually try to get a DoD job. That and from what I hear, the benefits are amazing. However, I don't like the fact that in the process of trying to get one, the government would be trying to find out every second of my 23 years on this planet as a part of the background check. Not that it is a bad 23 years but I would rather keep my relationships, religious beliefs etc to myself.

    That and typically most government jobs go to people who have clearances first. I see a lot of contractors jumping to government. Which is why I said you should try to get into a contracting agency like Northrop, HP Enterprise services, GDIT, etc so you can get your clearance through them first. My one friend who went from College grad to working with the NSA right out of school (he had to wait a while) while others went the contracting route first.

    You cannot blame them for doing such a thorough background check because its possible you will be handling sensitive information.
  • techie2012techie2012 Posts: 150Member
    higherho wrote: »
    That and typically most government jobs go to people who have clearances first. I see a lot of contractors jumping to government. Which is why I said you should try to get into a contracting agency like Northrop, HP Enterprise services, GDIT, etc so you can get your clearance through them first. My one friend who went from College grad to working with the NSA right out of school (he had to wait a while) while others went the contracting route first.

    You cannot blame them for doing such a thorough background check because its possible you will be handling sensitive information.

    Certainly can't blame them for the background check. I was just stating that I wasn't too enthusiastic about it. I will look into those contracting agencies though. thanks!
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  • higherhohigherho Posts: 882Member
    techie2012 wrote: »
    Certainly can't blame them for the background check. I was just stating that I wasn't too enthusiastic about it. I will look into those contracting agencies though. thanks!

    No problem. Northrop is the second largest contracting agency to the DoD (over 10 billion dollars grossed last year). They have a great program for new graduates and hire them on and get them their clearances so they can put them on a contract. However, most of these are located in the Maryland / DC area. I know in your area they have quite a few DoD contracts but if your willing to move to MD area then you will be set.

    You already have a bulk of the credentials they require, its just that clearance part that you need the company to sponsor you for. If you have a friend within one of those company's it would be ideal for them to referral you in.
  • tpatt100tpatt100 Posts: 2,989Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    Were the positions not good enough to move for?
    By the way, are you a veteran? I'd be interested in using USAJobs to find work in another county some day, but I'm thinking most of the positions only hire existing govt/veterans with a clearance

    Yeah I am a vet, four years active 17 years Guard. That was a big reason I seemed to have a lot of opportunities in DOD contracts. The jobs were contract work and I am not moving for a contract since I am married and my wife's job has excellent benefits. I had a couple of government employee positions open up before but I am so done with doing government contract work or even entertaining the idea of working for the government due to my experiences over the years with government employees. Not all bad but I am not fit for that type of work.
  • techie2012techie2012 Posts: 150Member
    tpatt100 wrote: »
    Yeah I am a vet, four years active 17 years Guard. That was a big reason I seemed to have a lot of opportunities in DOD contracts. The jobs were contract work and I am not moving for a contract since I am married and my wife's job has excellent benefits. I had a couple of government employee positions open up before but I am so done with doing government contract work or even entertaining the idea of working for the government due to my experiences over the years with government employees. Not all bad but I am not fit for that type of work.

    Interesting, I seem to notice a trend of people being displeased with co-workers in government employment. The common factor that I have read is that, and this is just generally speaking, government employees are more cut throat when it comes to trying to obtain a better position or higher pay grade.
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  • the_Grinchthe_Grinch Posts: 4,152Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    Having worked for the federal government and interviewed for various position I can give a clear picture. Health benefits are good, but you get what you pay for. There are several options you can choose from, some really good and really expensive others really cheap and not so great. Retirement wise, you can get a portion of your salary, but they also offer TSP (which is a government 401k) which you can invest what you like into. Those who were smart and invested wisely seem to retire at about 80% of their top three years with the government. Salary wise, they are fairly competitive with private sector when you factor in locality pay. That being said, given the economy and tax fighting, federal employees will probably be frozen for awhile.

    Questions in regards to fairness in hiring really depend on where you are from. Being from NJ, where if you aren't politically connected you don't get a job (for the most part) the Federal process is a dream. One does have to remember that when a job gets posted, thousands apply and are ranked. I couldn't tell you the number of jobs I've applied for and got the "qualified, but not selected" response. Fact of life, if you want it and keep applying your number will come up. As far as background checks, they are one of the least fun processes you will ever go through, but that comes with the territory. If you are going for a TS-SCI with Full Scope Poly you are in for a treat. They will contact anyone and everyone, they will know more about you then you probably know about yourself. All part of the game....
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  • SteveLordSteveLord Posts: 1,717Member
    For me, it's just nearly impossible for people to get fired. Whether they are incompetent or so negative/annoying it's toxic to other staff...if it doesn't make the paper, nothing happens to them. Either nobody wants to be the bad guy or nobody wants to go through the work to do it. So just make it through the probationary 6 months and you're golden. :\
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  • NOC-NinjaNOC-Ninja Posts: 1,403Member
    I'm with SteveLord. Its nearly impossible to get fired unless you really Fd up. In my experience, in the Fed side, there is money. Ive been to private sector and they outsource IT. Private sector always cuts the budget of IT since they dont see it. Its not like marketing for them that they think is important.
  • higherhohigherho Posts: 882Member
    SteveLord wrote: »
    For me, it's just nearly impossible for people to get fired. Whether they are incompetent or so negative/annoying it's toxic to other staff...if it doesn't make the paper, nothing happens to them. Either nobody wants to be the bad guy or nobody wants to go through the work to do it. So just make it through the probationary 6 months and you're golden. :\

    This is the problem I'm seeing. A lot of people hardly do anything vastly important or they really slack off and the bulk of the work is done by contractors. Of course this is dependent on were you work, etc.


    I've seen federal employees who just delete hard drives and check network printers and get 70k (of course they've been here for a while but still the responsibilities are simple).
  • tpatt100tpatt100 Posts: 2,989Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    SteveLord wrote: »
    For me, it's just nearly impossible for people to get fired. Whether they are incompetent or so negative/annoying it's toxic to other staff...if it doesn't make the paper, nothing happens to them. Either nobody wants to be the bad guy or nobody wants to go through the work to do it. So just make it through the probationary 6 months and you're golden. :\

    My FIL got fired his second year as a DOD employee. I was surprised, 20 year Active Duty Army vet. From what I heard he really pissed off some of the long timers there.
  • tpatt100tpatt100 Posts: 2,989Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    techie2012 wrote: »
    Interesting, I seem to notice a trend of people being displeased with co-workers in government employment. The common factor that I have read is that, and this is just generally speaking, government employees are more cut throat when it comes to trying to obtain a better position or higher pay grade.


    I don't want to generalize, it was just that based on my limited experience the opportunity to advance was slow and much harder. People did not leave, it was like that when I worked for the City also. Cradle to grave was the idea. For a lot of people that are happy with the status quo then more power to them, but I did not want to think my only opportunities for advancement was somebody dying lol.
  • zenhoundzenhound Posts: 93Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    tpatt100 wrote: »
    I don't want to generalize, it was just that based on my limited experience the opportunity to advance was slow and much harder. People did not leave, it was like that when I worked for the City also. Cradle to grave was the idea. For a lot of people that are happy with the status quo then more power to them, but I did not want to think my only opportunities for advancement was somebody dying lol.

    That's one of my major frustrations where I am. That combined with new management not trusting employees to do anything (perhaps with cause in many cases) so everything new and interesting gets outsourced. It's just kind of a mess.
  • Brain_PowerBrain_Power Posts: 163Users Awaiting Email Confirmation
    That's discouraging...Did you have a 4-year degree at the time? I heard Federal/DoD jobs really like you to have that 4-year degree.

    I have a Master's degree in Homeland Security and 17 years experience as an officer in the Army National Guard. I have deployments to both Iraq an Afghanistan. Trust me, I would pursue the private sector, if you want a job within the next 90 days. The federal sector will require a long amount of time before you actually start earning a paycheck.
  • joshmadakorjoshmadakor Posts: 495Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I have a Master's degree in Homeland Security and 17 years experience as an officer in the Army National Guard. I have deployments to both Iraq an Afghanistan. Trust me, I would pursue the private sector, if you want a job within the next 90 days. The federal sector will require a long amount of time before you actually start earning a paycheck.
    Gotcha, thanks so much. I was just curious, I currently work for state government so I won't be going anywhere any time soon, but it's good to know.
    tpatt100 wrote: »
    Yeah I am a vet, four years active 17 years Guard. That was a big reason I seemed to have a lot of opportunities in DOD contracts. The jobs were contract work and I am not moving for a contract since I am married and my wife's job has excellent benefits. I had a couple of government employee positions open up before but I am so done with doing government contract work or even entertaining the idea of working for the government due to my experiences over the years with government employees. Not all bad but I am not fit for that type of work.
    Thanks for the reply, very informative :)
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  • joeykeisjoeykeis Posts: 15Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Josh have you thought about Defense contractors?

    I work for one of the Top 3 and life is good.. Just make sure that you have a clean record and a degree though. I'm a former recent vet and one of the reasons I didn't go to into the Federal side was the long hiring process and low starting pay.
  • cxzar20cxzar20 Posts: 168Member
    I work for a government contractor and to be honest I don't ever plan on working in the private sector again. I am paid well with great benefits and decent working hours (40-45). Sure I could get paid more if I left, but for me life is better left living than working. I never have to worry about working through holidays as a moritorium on network changes are in place. With that being said the big negative is the endless parade of policy/procedure and it takes forever to get anything done.

    It's a shame that with the decline of unions have come the common acceptance that working 60 hours a week with constantly dwindling benefits and little job security is just life in the modern economy. My grandparents would never have put up with that, but we have been conditioned to accept it.
  • rwmidlrwmidl CISSP, CISM, MCSE, MCSA, MCPxAlot Worldwide AvailabilityPosts: 807Member ■■■■■■□□□□
    Knowing some people who have worked as a Federal employee, they have found that they are a lot less "hands on" and more "paperwork". Contractors do most of the "heavy work" (ie technical) while the Fed. employees tend to supervise/high level. Not saying this is true in all cases, but it is something to think of.

    The downside about being a contractor is if your contract ends/runs out of funding in some cases you can be out of work. Some of the bigger companies may assign you to a different contract. If another company wins the contract, there is a good chance you will be picked up by the "new" company. Also contracts are dependent on the Federal budget.
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  • tpatt100tpatt100 Posts: 2,989Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    cxzar20 wrote: »
    I work for a government contractor and to be honest I don't ever plan on working in the private sector again. I am paid well with great benefits and decent working hours (40-45). Sure I could get paid more if I left, but for me life is better left living than working. I never have to worry about working through holidays as a moritorium on network changes are in place. With that being said the big negative is the endless parade of policy/procedure and it takes forever to get anything done.

    It's a shame that with the decline of unions have come the common acceptance that working 60 hours a week with constantly dwindling benefits and little job security is just life in the modern economy. My grandparents would never have put up with that, but we have been conditioned to accept it.

    I think employers are going to have to adapt to giving "Quality of Life" benefits vs money if they want to compete in maintaining/attracting quality employees. Money reaches a point where it is just money that allows you to buy crap that makes you temporarily happy but does not contribute to your quality of life. QOL benefits to me are things like my wife has with the University she works for. She has been there 6 years now and has over two weeks of family medical leave that she can use in 1 hour increments for things like our son's speech therapy classes, doctors appts, etc. She is capped out at four weeks vacation but that is a lot to me.

    Anwyays financially her pay is average but her benefits will keep here there because she cannot find anything similar for what she does.
  • rwmidlrwmidl CISSP, CISM, MCSE, MCSA, MCPxAlot Worldwide AvailabilityPosts: 807Member ■■■■■■□□□□
    tpatt100 wrote: »
    I think employers are going to have to adapt to giving "Quality of Life" benefits vs money if they want to compete in maintaining/attracting quality employees. Money reaches a point where it is just money that allows you to buy crap that makes you temporarily happy but does not contribute to your quality of life. QOL benefits to me are things like my wife has with the University she works for. She has been there 6 years now and has over two weeks of family medical leave that she can use in 1 hour increments for things like our son's speech therapy classes, doctors appts, etc. She is capped out at four weeks vacation but that is a lot to me.

    Anwyays financially her pay is average but her benefits will keep here there because she cannot find anything similar for what she does.

    Hopefully with/if the economy continuing to approve, employers will realize that for the past few years employees have been stretched thin and will reward them. There is also a good chance that employers who don't reward/recognize the hard work by their employees over the past few years they are going to see all of their talent jump ship.
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  • joshmadakorjoshmadakor Posts: 495Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    joeykeis wrote: »
    Josh have you thought about Defense contractors?

    I work for one of the Top 3 and life is good.. Just make sure that you have a clean record and a degree though. I'm a former recent vet and one of the reasons I didn't go to into the Federal side was the long hiring process and low starting pay.

    I have been thinking about that a lot recently. Do you have any tips or suggestions for going this route? I'm not a vet but I will have my degree soon.
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  • tprice5tprice5 Posts: 770Member
    I work as a federal contractor and it's not so bad. The benefits aren't that great, but it is the best way to parlay into a DoD job because unless you know the hiring manager, you WILL NOT get that job. You do have to worry about the contract expiring. If the contract is not renewed, the new contractor will likely move you over because it is far too expensive and unrealistic to replace the entire work force of a given organization. The exception with that being if you are in a management position. Receiving a raise mid-contract is unheard of around here. Bonuses exist but only for one contractor on the entire installation. There are no education benefits because there are no long-term ties to the company so it doesn't benefit them to educate you. The same goes for certifications.

    Here are pay scales that include both base and locality pay. 2012 General Schedule (GS) Locality Pay Tables

    The USAjobs site is a nightmare. It was just revamped so I think it is a little better now. Your resume is ran through a computer and dropped if you don't have certian key words. If you happen to make the list, you then have to pray there aren't any veterans on the list. All can all take 4 months or more.
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  • dmoore44dmoore44 Posts: 646Member
    cxzar20 wrote: »
    It's a shame that with the decline of unions have come the common acceptance that working 60 hours a week with constantly dwindling benefits and little job security is just life in the modern economy. My grandparents would never have put up with that, but we have been conditioned to accept it.
    I would counter your argument with this: if you're a particularly skilled individual, you now have the power to negotiate a better deal for yourself than if you were part of a union - CBAs cut both ways. As IT professionals, we work in unique and challenging environments. Business operations in the connected world need to continue 24/7/365. Personally, I think I'm better off not being in a union. But to each their own. Also, as kind of a side note, teachers are unionized. But they too work long hours. They have to grade their student's work, and they don't get to do it during "work hours". It's done at home.

    Anyway, not to totally thread-jack... I've done some government work, and I'll say this: it is what it is. Depending on the agency you go to work for, you can have some really interesting experiences and play with some of the latest technology. But there are also some exceedingly dull agencies where technology is practically an afterthought. The benefits are pretty good - comparable to the private sector. Pay is also good, but no one ever takes a government job to get rich. As has been mentioned, the federal jobs are safe plays - low risk, low reward. If you're going to join DOD, LE, or Intel (with an operational role - as opposed to a support role) - make sure that you buy in to the mission 100%, there's not a lot of love for people who just occupy a billet.
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