DiceTV: A Career with Uncle Sam?

For a while, the federal government may outpace the private sector in creating jobs. Among other things, the Obama administration has proposed transferring more than one hundred and forty thousand contractor positions over to the federal payroll. Sound interesting? Sure does. But if you’re used to the business world, the government’s culture might give you something of a, well, a shock.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwRy17uVtoQ?rel=0&hd=1&w=425&h=349]

If you’ve been laid off from the private sector, a government job can sure sound good. After all, federal job security and benefits are hard to beat.

But if you’ve always worked in the business world, you should prepare for a significantly different culture. For one thing, IT professionals need to possess both patience and adaptability if they’re going to succeed in the federal work force.

Not surprisingly, the government has more levels of hierarchy, so decisions take longer. Also, federal agencies are risk-averse by nature, so programs are thoroughly tested and debugged before they go live.

This is all good news for people who prefer a slower pace and who tend to be perfectionists. But it’s not so good for people who prefer a fast pace and more autonomy.

Also, most projects are national in scope and agencies are quite large. So just compiling all their requirements takes much longer than it would in the private world.

Federal IT professionals work in large teams, so decisions involve more people. That means you’ll have to make more compromises than you’re used to.

What’s the bottom line? If you’ve worked for a large company and liked it, you could fit right in with Uncle Sam.

33 Responses to “DiceTV: A Career with Uncle Sam?”

  1. DCEscapeeToSiliValley

    i’m a former gov’t and defense mid-level contractor from dc. after 3 years ive had the hardest time getting work in the private sector bc of this experience. so i dont advise leaving private if you’re in it. you can go anywhere to work. im happy that at least i was a contractor and not bound to working for the fed govt if i had been a fed worker. this video misses that completely. oh my god the fed workers think theyre god – archaic talentless connected suburban dullards primarily. contractors do most of the work. i know, i did it! hope you enjoy working in an environment of no perks and old farts too. thats the truth. let’s see if dice censors the truth. i bet they do. i built and used systems that were so archaic. painful. im reduced to hoping there’s a job at moffett or in seaside. very small pond here comparedto dc but dc living is cutthroat, full of type a’s. try it you’ll find out the hard way. i got out before i had a heart attack by age 50.

  2. brian Williams

    Angelo, you see what you want. Companies don¿t take advantage of Gov; they avoid their interference in the free market. I challenge you, name one Gov program that¿s been successful. I bet your one of those people blaming private sector for the mortgage breakdown. When Gov interfered forcing bank loans to people who couldn¿t pay the system broke down. Blame Wall Street profits ignoring the politicians who made money off Fannie & Freddie. Complain about big oil¿s obscene profits, ignoring the Gov making far more on taxing oil than the small Big Oil profit. Your right about fascism, the change in power we have a more centralized autocratic Gov headed by a dictatorial leader appointing Zars who answer only to him. Nationalizing companies preventing the natural constructive destruction that must take place for the free market to thrive. Suppressing opposition with The Fairness Doctrine White House controlled media to control the message. Lemmings like you will follow this him off the cliff

  3. @Jim Zelek Exactly who got us into this mess with sub-prime mortgage? I constantly hear everyone bashing the Government, but there are plenty of things they make and provide that just simply work here in Omaha.

    I really do like the mindset of let people compete and see what works best but for the 5, maybe even 10 years, that has been a craps-shoot at best.

    I like the idea of tight government controls and their slow pace, and leaving the fast paced stuff to contractors, but there is something wrong with the current system. I constantly here horror stories were private companies will lease things to medi-care for years at a weekly price that is high enough to purchase it in one week.

    It’s complicated there is no one right answer …

  4. K Ray

    “programs are thoroughly tested and debugged before they go live.”………DEFINITELY doesn’t apply to DoD financial systems. Obviously, Cat hasn’t been a in that arena.

  5. Craig

    I’ve worked for both federal and state government as a contractor. The workers are typically over worked and underpaid yet some how very dedicated. The government only gets taken advantage of when they don’t have the right people making the right calls and unfortunately from what I saw in both contracts I worked on that happens a LOT! The point of to many layers of management is very true. There were several managers of one person and some managers of themselves that I observed. Specifications took forever to gather and even longer to get right so many systems end up being rewritten multiple times because they were not done right in the first place. It is totally different than the regular business world, I personally couldn’t stand it and took no more government contracts after the second one…it really was that bad.

  6. MrNice

    This vid is a waste of time.

    1) The content was uselessly broad generalization and informative as a horroscope.

    2) The main purpose for this vid is eye candy in the form of Cat Miller mugging in some goofy Uncle Sam outfit.

    3) “The goverment is going to outpace the private sector in hiring.” Newsflash: Even my non-English speaking granny who’s only news source is through broadcast TV on Telemundo knew that a year ago!

    4) There are vast differences in the workplace from working for the Fed’s (Park Services or NSA), any state agency (DMV vs. Health), or any city/town/village.

    5) Also when recessions go on long enough even the gov feels the pinch in tax revenue and they cut back. on who? Maybe those new hires? What good are benefits if you aren’t around long enough to …benefit from them?

  7. Listen to Bert. If you want to work with obsolete technology, watch everything take 4x as long as it should and spend half your day listening to your co-workers complaining about how poorly they’re paid for doing nothing, go government.

    Been there, done it, couldn’t stand it.

  8. Ken Kirkham

    Having worked in the private sector for a looonnnggg time I took a federal position. Number one issue for me is the inbred nature of the knowledge base. People in the gov’t are a wonderful example of the Peter Principle in action. They are promoted from within and it has nothing to do with knowledge. A person who has spent their entire professional career in gov’t is less likely to possess a fraction of the knowledge of someone in the private sector.

    Those who are considered the “experts” in gov’t would not be more than entry level in the private sector. It is interesting how decisions are made. People who know nothing but what they have learned on the job are given the responsibility to recommend solutions. They are typically 3-5 years behind the curve and recommend outdated solutions. By the time that recommendation is brought to reality it is completely outdated.

    Right now I am working on software developed in the 70’s and 80’s. They wrapped a Windows front end on it but it is still ancient code. Many of the packages are not Vista compatible and we have a mandate to run Vista. This is common.

    Be patient, don’t expect the experts to know much and just do what you are told…even if you know the outcome will be a real mess to fix. If you appear to be more knowledgeable than those in charge expect problems from the injured egos.

    Working for the gov’t is the laziest job I have had in 30 years. Show up for work, do what you are asked and you will be fine.

  9. Frank Lee

    Her last statement is most telling, government is like working for a large company. Actually, working for the government can be a much faster pace then some large companies depending on the department.

  10. Jim Zelek

    Government should stay out of private sector, we have seen what government has done to our country, we should shrink government, and let the free enterprize system do it’s thing!

  11. Cathy

    At this stage of the game, government jobs sound great. When I was very young, I would have turned a slow paced job down. Now that I am seasoned and looking for a job for over six months after a lay off, a nice steady slower paced job would be nice. The one thing that I have noticed is that the public sector pay scales are MUCH lower that private industry.

  12. Angelo

    Honestly we have seen what private companies did to this nation, much worse than the other way around. Private companies take advantage of the government as much as they can, but then refuse any form of interference by the government. You are scared of communism? Well you got fascism.

  13. This was hardly unbiased. How about a more objective. Was the baseline for the info on private industry a small company of 5 to 10? Decsion making in the gov’t – as anywhere – really depends on the individuals involved and the urgency. Ditto to Frank Lee’s comment. The real story was in her last statement.

  14. John Pounders

    There are two other factors at work, baby boomers and the BRAC.

    The government workforce is aging and retiring. There is a need for replacement workers before the experience of older workers leave.

    BRAC results in some of the employees at the closing base to decide not to move with their organizations to the new location.

    There are govt. intern programs which start at GS-7 and in two years with paid required professional development training and on the job experience you become a GS-11 with an intermediate step to GS-9 at year one. This means you go from a base pay of $32k to $41k to $50k. Not counting location allowance which pays based on the location where you work. $37k to $55k in two years, in my case.

    I believe other government agencies are operating these rapid advancement intern programs. Look for job announcements that say “GS-7 potential GS-11. Be prepared to wait a long time before hearing back on your application. Like six months.

  15. ex-gov manager

    Working for government has more and less of the “typical government” factors that we all hear about.

    1. The people, by and large, and dedicated hard workers. Very few of the slovenly and lazy workers that have always been reputed to work for govt are actually there. Most govt employees have excellent work ethic and are very concerned with customer service and getting the job done properly.

    Always remember to THANK the government worker that assists you, they appreciate it and it helps to humanize the day. It means a lot to you, when you are the worker that gets thanked!

    2. The regulations are stifling. Govt is so afraid of scandal, liability, and scrutiny by the press and oversight agencies that may times the decision makers’ and workers’ hands are tied.

    3. The wheels do turn slowly in many agencies. Yet it is amazing how fast the fast track can get when some elected official(s) make it a point to lend their support and sense of urgency.

    4. Politics is less of a factor than many may think. A bigger factor may be the tendency of individuals to protect their turf and their careers with overly cautious decisions and actions.
    Politics is at least as severe a stifling element in the private sector as in the public sector.

    If you do go to work for government, at any level, please take your strong work ethic and attention to detail and quality with you, and make it clear to everyone that nothing less than 100% quality will do!

    Best of luck to all Job Seekers!

  16. Benny BeJesus

    The ‘private sector’ are low-balling the heck out of the seasoned people and offering way too many “3-5 years of experience” jobs.

    The money is still in our country. It was wasn’t burned or destroyed, just shifted.

    So let’s shift it back!

  17. I’ve worked in both the private and public sector, and IMHO the biggest problem is government has no competition, so there is little incentive to excel. I found it difficult to work at a place where most people don’t care about doing a great job.

  18. sabour sabet


    i am presently working in Iraq as linguist for US Army and would like to get an opportunity with Fed gov to obtain a permanent employee.


    S. Sabet

  19. sasshole

    Bert is right. The pace at the Courts is much slower than the private sector. The people also tend to be sheepish, and the main way to move up in the ranks is by sucking up to management and pushing others down. The pay is lower, and the whole ‘job security’ thing is a myth now with layoffs looming. You will make less, work with people who are compartementalized (can do video admin, but not routers), and have to deal with people who know it is difficult to get fired (bad attitudes).

    Better off properly managing your finances and making more in the private sector.

  20. Donna McLean

    They need to get their noses out of the private sector. They can’t run the programs they have now, letting corruption rule them. They need to throw out the programs that are not working, and stop funding them with tax payer dollars.
    Let’s look at some of the things they have their noses in, that don’t work. Education, social security, medicare, medicaid, Acorn, bailouts and on and on.
    They need to concentrate on doing their jobs. Oh yeah, how about creating a law that won’t allow a bill over 75 pages to be passed. We should feel confident they would be able to read this and not be able to hide in there, the corrupt extras they want to pass.

  21. Donna

    I’m only 46 years old with 23 years of IT experience and was finally laid-off by a private sector employer, so I guess that makes me “seasoned” and ready for a “slow-paced” government job where time is taken to ensure what¿s implemented is legal, somewhat fair, and as defect-free as possible (you haven¿t been billed for Bill Gate¿s income taxes, have you?). I’m not mad at the younger work force that craves a faster pace, innovations, ladder-climbing, etc. I believe the world and economy has a place for both types of workers and both types are to be respected. After being in the private sector for over 20 years, working for the government looks very good to me. But even if you’re not at that point in your life, please think about where this country is heading and let whatever job you do be something that moves all of us forward in a positive direction! God bless our nation and all those who want to be part of its workforce….

  22. Frankie Michaels

    Unless you’ve been a government employee, you have no idea of the nightmare you’d be in for: the rampant incompetence, bad attitudes, managers who delight in torturing their subordinates, idiots who got their job via political connections and can barely write their own name. If I had to do it all over again, I’d rather be unemployed. Its a living hell.

  23. Curt Charles

    Best of both worlds? IT Contractor to the Fed’s. You get an easy pace, potentially 40-hr work week limits, high stability, and a comp package in line with the outside world.
    What Ken wrote is also true; the Gov’t “experts” are mostly long-timers with broad domain knowledge and little up-to-date technology knowledge. These experts are the decision makers, but this provides a wonderful opportunity for a contractor to propose what can be done. Properly handled, you can make them look very good indeed instead of bruising their fragile egos.
    Brian has it right too: the Community Reinvestment Act from the Carter administration is what lead to the mortgage meltdown.
    Great thread!

  24. Frankie Michaels took the words right out of my mouth! There’s a lot of potential exciting projects in government sector to improve the services they provide to people, but the management and employees who have been there do not want to disturb their “rest”. In addition, 60% are ready to retire in the next five years. They have been doing the same thing for the last 20 years. Why bother learn new things? It hurts to hear the media criticize how lazy and slackers the government employees are. Unfortunately, they are true.

  25. Ann English

    I don’t know if I could fit in to gov’t work; I’ve spent most of my working years in small companies. I want to get into IT work and have an Associate’s Degree in Computer Networking Systems earned back in 2007, but I want to use technology that is 2003ish or newer. We didn’t use textbooks covering Windows 95 or 98; those were too dated for us. A fast pace isn’t what I want at the start, but I certainly want room for advancement. Autonomy right from the start? No, thank you, but I would rather relate to co-workers long before answering phonecalls from people I don’t know.
    I am glad to see so many fellow conservatives commenting. I learned at one small company how unionism can really leave someone feeling that gov’t owes them favors without working for it. That former union member didn’t stay employed with us for long; he took a day off just because he felt like it.

  26. Dave Stevens

    I’ve waited patiently for all of the initial comments about this posting that I knew were coming to end. It appears it has been 4 days since the last comment so I will add my 2 pennies worth.
    I worked for the Internal Revenue Service as a Computer Operator, Programmer Analyst, Scheduler, Performance Analyst, and DB2 Database Administrator for 28 years. I felt I had to resign in 1998 due to the size and control being given over to contractors and the management cowtowing to these contractor bosses, specifically UNISYS.
    I have worked as a contractor, and once even was contracted back to IRS, for the past 10 years and the only thing I do miss is the security and the benefits. Contracting work, especially for an old-time mainframer like myself, has become almost non-existent, at least in my home area and my health has deterioated over the past few years to where I cannot travel as much. I have more and more lately applied for some government positions.
    The government (by the way you can find all (or most) government jobs at http://www.usajobs.gov) does have some lazy workers and as I have witnessed over the past 10 years, no more that the private sector. There are usually a few dedicated souls in each department that help carry the rest of the department, but no more so than the private sector in my experiences.

  27. Fatiha

    Let me tell you something , I just got laid off from my job , worked for the company as an application developer , the CEO decided to ship my job and 20 of my coworkers job all application developers to India. The company was doing very good making a decent profit.

    Now , I am done with the private secteur.

  28. I worked for the federal government (department of the Navy) and my experiences were totally different. Where I worked (China Lake) they had a reputation for innovation and getting the job done with not getting caught up in bureaucracy. I left the California high desert to get a job out on the coast with a contractor working with the Air Force at Vandenberg AFB and I’m now I’m getting paid half of what I would have been getting had I stayed, and the job security is not as good. Stupid me.
    My opinion is the article was BS