There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about working in the public sector, to the point that younger workers shy away from it. For example, public sector workers are often viewed as not being held accountable in their positions. With that theoretical lack of accountability, there may be the perception that opportunities for advancement based on performance are limited.
These things aren’t necessarily true, and a lot of public sector organizations are focusing more on improving employee performance and opportunities for advancement. For example, in the UK, the public sector uses the G-cloud digital marketplace as a way to deliver e-learning to employees.
A lot of public sector organizations and entities are working to create a culture of learning and development that mirrors what’s seen in the private sector.
If you are in the public sector or considering a public sector career, you should prepare yourself to advance by improving your performance and expanding your network.
The following are tips to move upward in a public sector career.
Take Education Opportunities
Education and the credentials that can come with it are extremely important in the public sector—sometimes more so than they are in the private sector.
If you want to boost your career, you should absolutely advance your education.
For example, most executives and administrators in the public sector have high-level degrees.
A Master of Public Administration degree is one example of something a lot of leaders in government agencies have.
The more education you attain, the more you can advance your pay grade in many cases, and it may be required for a lot of positions.
Start by Volunteering
If you’re trying to find a job in the public sector, it’s frequently difficult. These jobs get filled quickly, and they’re competitive.
If you think this is the career trajectory you’d like to follow, you should consider volunteering to start with.
Then, you can get to know people, and when a paid position opens up the hiring managers may be more likely to consider you.
You’ll also get job experience, and in government organizations, it’s very common to see internal hiring and promotions.
While many of the myths of working in the public sector may not necessarily be true, what is true is that it is slower to evolve and innovate than the private sector in almost all instances.
If you want to stand out and advance your own career, don’t be afraid to be an innovator. Suggest new ideas, new technology, and new ways of doing things.
You may be scared to make suggestions if it’s not something your coworkers commonly do, but you may be surprised at how your suggestions are received.
Think outside the box and be someone who works on creative solutions and alternative ways of doing things.
Even if all of your ideas aren’t used, the people you’re accountable to may take notice and help you move upward.
In the public sector, many times job advancements and pay raises are difficult to achieve because they’re based on a strict schedule and timetable that has nothing to do with the quality of your work.
Even so, be proactive and speak up if you think you deserve a raise or see an opportunity you’d be a good fit for.
Bring yourself to the attention of senior leadership and let them know that you want to move higher.
Networking is important in both the public and private sectors, and if you have a strong network, you’ll be more likely to gain access to opportunities.
You might also think about finding someone who’s in a position you’d ultimately like to be in and asking them to mentor you.
Even if your mentor isn’t in the position you’d like to be in, look for someone who has skills specific to your career goals.
Finally, there are resources specifically for government workers that can help them boost their careers.
One of the biggest platforms is called GovLoop, and according to the site, the goal is to help public sector professionals connect with one another and ultimately improve government.
GovLoop offers leadership programs and weekly online training as well as self-paced classes. There are news updates specifically related to people who work in government and editorial reporting and research.
It’s a good way to collaborate with other people who work in government and stay connected. It’s also a great resource to stay on top of trends that you can potentially bring to your job.