Public Sector Jobs
If you have a desire to help others and to make a difference in your community, then you may wish to explore the variety of careers available within the public sector.
These job roles involve working for a government organization or a non-profit company and often involve public service.
In addition, public sector jobs often come equipped with a wide range of employee benefits that can outweigh what private employers offer.
But public sector employment may not be suited to everyone.
This article will look at the skills that you may need for public sector employment.
What Is the Public Sector?
These are jobs that are funded by taxpayers and provide services designed to help local communities.
Recruitment is often affected by tax budgets, but retention is high and there is almost always a need for public sector jobs; they are often classified as key or essential workers.
What Jobs Are Part of the Public Sector?
You may be surprised to learn how varied the public sector can be. While job roles such as teaching, police and firefighters may immediately come to mind, the public sector also includes government administration.
This in turn can lead to careers in IT, marketing, HR, engineering, medical and health, and even parks and recreation.
If you have always seen yourself as a Lesley Knope-type figure, then working in a public sector job role could be right for you.
Here is a more detailed look at some examples of public sector jobs:
For councils and governments to function, you need a team of well-trained, capable staff.
There are a wide variety of jobs available from local to state and even federal government .
Like many other businesses, governments require many different departments to function. You could find yourself working in a marketing and PR team, you could have an exciting time as an IT technician or you could have a varied career as a finance manager .
An added benefit of working within government administration is that there are often many opportunities to progress and develop your career .
If you are more interested in working in a public sector job role that is devoted to the local community, then you may be interested in a job within a non-profit organization.
Like government admin roles, there is often a wide variety of opportunities.
Non-profits often rely on additional creativity to get noticed. Therefore, if you are skilled in areas such as graphic design , videography, photography or event planning you could find yourself highly sought-after.
Of course, working for a non-profit means that budgets will always be tight. Public sector employers are aware that their staff could earn substantially more salary within the private sector.
Therefore, they often implement additional staff benefits and wellbeing policies to help their employees feel valued.
Public Health and Safety
As public sector job roles are all about communities and public service, it stands to reason that many public sector jobs are based on health and safety.
This includes careers within the police force, the fire department , emergency repairs and disaster planning.
If you are a skilled tradesperson, you may find that working in the public sector enjoyable.
For example, you could be employed by your local or state government as an electrical engineer , work in maintenance roles, or even animal care and/or pest control.
Teaching and Community Education
Possibly the most famous of all public sector jobs is that of a teacher .
If you teach in a public school, then you are delivering an essential public service. You are playing a vital role in shaping future communities and inspiring young people to achieve their ambitions.
But schools rely on more than teaching staff to function. They also need IT engineers, finance teams, HR departments, exam invigilators, guidance counselors , healthcare professions and sports coaching staff.
So even if teaching is not your forte, there are other places you can fit in within a school.
What Is the Difference Between the Public and Private Sectors?
As stated above, public sector jobs are about providing an essential public service, helping to ensure that local communities have access to what they need.
In contrast, private-sector job roles are all about making as much money as possible for the employer, even if they also have social good as a secondary motive.
It is well-known that private sector staff can earn more money. This is because private employers have access to greater budgets not subject to public scrutiny.
However, public sector staff often enjoy a greater feeling of reward and achievement because their worth and success are based on social objectives.
They are judged on the overall community impact of the project – and by taking this approach, public sector staff often feel that they are truly making a positive difference to their local area, which is a motivating feeling.
It is interesting to see how varied the work is within the public sector.
Some job roles are almost exclusively available to the public sector (such as firefighters and park rangers), but there are often ample opportunities to mix and match your experience.
Some people may spend their entire careers working solely in public sector jobs. Others may switch between public and private sector roles. Others may even seamlessly blend a mix of the two – especially those working part-time hours or those working as a freelancer or external contractor.
What Are the Key Benefits of Working in the Public Sector?
Here are just a few of the main benefits that you can enjoy from working within a public sector job role:
Job security – Although budgets within public service are often tight, it is a fact that many public sector employees retain their job roles for many years. There is often a high level of job security because the individual job roles are within essential services. And, in a post-2020 world, everyone is far clearer than before which services are vital to the general running and functioning of society.
Great employee benefits – Public sector employers know that they cannot compete with private firms on salary. Instead, they implement good employee benefits that are well regarded amongst their staff. This could include paid time off policies, better healthcare plans, improved retirement plans and employee wellbeing policies. You often find that public sector employers are more likely to offer flexible working opportunities because they are not judged solely upon financial results. As a result, many public sector employees have a better work-life balance .
A feeling of accomplishment – Public sector workers are often drawn to their role because they feel that they are having a positive impact on their local communities. By seeing first-hand how others are enjoying the services provided, they can feel satisfied that the work that they do has value. Rather than working hard to make shareholders rich, public sector staff feel that they (and their families) can directly benefit from the services that they provide.
They are respected job roles – Even the most stringent capitalists will agree that there is always a place for public sector workers, that someone needs to do it. Public sector staff are respected by others who acknowledge the impact of their work. As mentioned above, in a post-2020 world, society is generally far more appreciative of public sector workers now that they understand the true value of their roles.
What Are the Common Skills Needed by Public Sector Workers?
After all, a firefighter needs different skills from an IT technician or a marketing manager.
However, certain commonalities often exist between public sector staff regardless of what sector or department they work in.
Public sector employers are often large beasts. Unlike small private firms, you will need to be able to liaise with internal colleagues across a wide range of departments as well as communicate clearly to external stakeholders and members of the public.
Skilled public sector staff are often known for their ability to communicate effectively to all those involved.
Communication skills can include areas such as:
- Active listening
- Non verbal communication
- Written communication
You need to show that you are just as confident in talking to a member of the public as you are to your C-suite management team.
As a public sector employee, at various times of your career you may be reminded that your salary is being paid for by taxpayer dollars. Therefore, you must remember that you will always be held accountable for your actions and your decisions.
You need to work as ethically as possible and make sure your decisions are made for the greater good.
Public sector employees could be audited at any time; therefore, you should always have a paper trail to use as evidence of budgets spent, contractor choices and project decisions.
Public sector teams are often asked to multi-task and work on multiple projects simultaneously. Therefore, employers are looking for those with exceptional organizational skills who can prove that they are up to the job.
Regardless of the job role you are in, the public sector is a high-pressure place and you need to be able to show that you can prioritize your workload .
Employers will value those who can demonstrably show that they can organize themselves, their teams and their projects.
When in a role, try to show your worth through effective to-do lists that you always complete.
Public sector work is hard-going , and you need to have the resilience to cope with the invariable knock-backs.
You may find that you must make tough decisions that may not be liked.
Everything that you do is for the greater good of your local community, so you need to have courage in your convictions.
It is well known that work in the public sector can take a long time and be extremely bureaucratic. Therefore, you need to feel confident that you can continue to get projects approved and have a never-give-up attitude.
As mentioned, public sector employees do not work in silos; it is not every team for themselves. They must work closely with colleagues in their own team as well as other departments.
Employers want to recruit those who are strong team players and can put tasks and projects ahead of their egos.
As you are accountable to your department, your senior managers, your external stakeholders and the public, you need to be able to work with others to make sure that things get done as efficiently as possible.
Showcasing These Skills
If you are applying for a public sector job role and working hard to prepare your cover letter or resume, you should highlight these core skills and attributes that a public sector employer will be broadly looking to find.
Where possible, try to prepare some examples of times when you have shown these character traits and attributes.
What Are the Drawbacks of Working Within a Public Sector Job?
Public sector work is hugely enjoyable, but like any job, there can be drawbacks.
It is extremely competitive.
Although recruitment is consistent, many people are keen to get involved in public sector work and as such employers can be stringent about their requirements.
They want to pick the best possible candidates, so you must pay attention to the skills required, which are often listed in the job description and specifically reference these on your resume so that you stand out as a candidate of interest.
Additionally, recruitment within the public sector can be lengthy and extremely bureaucratic.
There will be many layers of decision-making before hiring managers can confirm their final decisions. This replicates the decision-making capabilities internally, so if this frustrates you from the beginning, you may struggle to adapt to life within the public sector.
It is also worth noting that public sector jobs are reliant on taxpayers.
While the benefits are undeniably better than the private sector, this is because there is often a cap on earnings.
At the start of your career, your earnings may be comparable to other sectors. But as you progress, you may start to notice that peers working in similar roles in private firms may earn much more.
Final Thoughts: Are You Suited to Life Within the Public Sector?
Undoubtedly there are many positives of working within the public sector. But there are also many disadvantages. It is important that you fully understand the pros and cons and weigh these up before deciding if a life of public service is right for you.
Many public sector workers describe a 'calling' and feel that they are compelled to work in job roles that support their community. These workers are often far more suited to the role because it intrinsically suits their personality types.
However, it is important to remember that aside from a few positions that are solely available within the public sector, there is great flexibility.
You can choose to work within public sector roles or you can seamlessly switch between public and private work throughout your career.
You may find that you learn much more and gain new insights and expertise, which is great for personal development and making you more employable.
Ultimately, only you will know if public sector work is right for you. But if it is, it is a highly rewarding opportunity to feel that you are making a tangible difference to your local community.