Is the Federal Government the Answer to Your Job Woes?

Don Tennant
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Components of a Top-Notch Security Resume

Eight helpful tips on making your resume shine.

In December 2009, when the recession was beginning to really create job losses that were devastating large numbers of families in this country, I wrote a post titled, "Would You Trade Details of Your Private Life for Job Security?" The idea was to encourage people to consider the pursuit of jobs that require a security clearance as a means of gaining employment along a stable career path.


Here we are nearly two years later, and the employment situation for many seems just as hopeless now as it did then. No doubt, going the security-clearance route presents great opportunities, but it's hardly an easy path to tread. A goal that would be more broadly and readily attainable, and that warrants serious consideration for many people who might not have given it much thought, is employment with the federal government in a position that doesn't necessarily require a security clearance.


I spoke last week with Laurence Shatkin, a career information analyst and author whose most recent book is "150 Best Federal Jobs." For starters, he said one of the fastest-growing jobs in the federal government is computer and information research scientist:

It's fast-growing, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's from a large base. Over the next 10 years, it's expected to grow at a rate of around 20 percent. There aren't that many of them, so that means there aren't going to be a whole lot of job openings. But if you have that particular set of skills, there could be opportunities there. It really means you have to understand these things on a theoretical basis-it's about information theory, as opposed to being able to write code. It means pushing the envelope of what's being done with computers.

I asked Shatkin if he had any tips that might give you a leg up on the competition. He said education is key:

Federal workers tend to be more highly educated than workers in the general population-education credentials will count for a lot when you're applying for these jobs. Another thing to remember is that these jobs certainly aren't all in Washington. They're in many different parts of the country, and sometimes you may have a leg up by being willing to move to a part of the country where there's not a lot of competition. On fedjobs.gov, the website where you can search a database of federal jobs, you can specify geographical area.

I asked him if age discrimination is less of a problem in the federal government than it is in the private sector, and he said he thinks it is:

And if you were to encounter it, your mechanisms for appealing on the basis of discrimination will be stronger than they are in the private sector. The federal government is held to a lot of scrutiny for complying with non-discrimination laws. So yes, your chances of avoiding age discrimination would be better. I know in the IT field that can be a real problem. There's often the assumption that the younger person is somehow more knowledgeable about the latest technologies.

As for the downsides to working for the federal government, Shatkin cited bureaucracy and pay:

I've known some federal workers, and I find that what tends to get to them after a while is the amount of bureaucracy that's involved. Although there are a lot of good regulations, for example anti-discrimination regulations, they discover that there are people who are manipulating the system in various ways, and that can be a source of dissatisfaction. Another thing is that for the level of education you bring to the job, the pay tends to be less than it is in the private sector. Of course there is more security, and the benefits tend to be better.

Since Shatkin has spent 30 years examining career issues, I also wanted get his views on the debate over whether there's a shortage of people with the particular IT skills that are needed in this country. I noted that some say there's a shortage so we need to have more foreign workers on H-1B visas, while others say we have a glut of skilled IT people who can't find jobs. I asked him which side of that debate he comes down on. His response:

I don't come down on either side of that debate, because I think there is some truth on both sides of that. I think there is a shortage of people who have these skills, but there's a surplus of people who have the ability and the native talent to learn these skills if they would only get the chance to do that. If companies were retraining workers, if they were supporting their training so that they could keep up with the latest developments in technology, we have all the people we need. There are any number of unemployed IT people in their 50s and even 60s who could fill that need but aren't, because companies would rather hire someone from abroad who can come in cheaper and have the skills already. It's like how there's oil underground here that we're not even tapping. Instead, we're bringing it in from Saudi Arabia. All we'd have to do is drill, and it's right there. But they don't want to spend the money to do that.

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Sep 12, 2011 8:09 AM SeaOtter SeaOtter  says: in response to Bob


EXCELLENT Post, EXCELLENT Points. I hate to pick just one, but the fact the 'U.S.' MNCs' can survive the demise of the U.S.A... SO FREAKIN True!

The enemy-within is 'busting-out' our country.

TRAITORS in thousand dollar suits.

Sep 12, 2011 2:56 PM Truth Truth  says:

If the government wants to create jobs, all they need to do is end the corrupt H1b/L1 government programs.

Sep 12, 2011 4:51 PM hoapres hoapres  says:

>> There aren't that many of them, so that means there aren't going to be a whole lot of job openings. <<

Says it all.

A solitary few apparently might get a Federal job but hardly enough to go around.

Sep 12, 2011 5:22 PM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:

Is there any place in the federal government (in IT) that you would suggest for the consultant type?

I've worked on a government contract before and it was not a pleasant experience.  Death by meeting.  Nothing got done.  Wrong decisions would never change once it was clear they were wrong, because they were planned.  It was better to do the wrong thing than to change a plan.  The PM even suffered a heart attack.  The solution to the stress causing that wasn't to cut down on stress.  We got a defibrillator.

I want to remain entrepreneurial.  I am able to fix major problems and come up with innovative solutions because I have the liberty to do just that.  Is there a place in the government that can happen? 

For me the federal government seems like a job for a "nine-to-fiver" or someone who sees IT as a job, not a passion.  There must be a group that doesn't fit into that stereotype.

Sep 12, 2011 7:21 PM Bob Bob  says:

I never thought it would reach this point, but it has been proven to me that our government is so bent on glutting labor markets, that it would bankrupt the country before it would reconsider this insane policy

'Stimulus' for 'creating jobs' is just borrowed money down the drain when you glut your labor markets with foreign workers that are redundant to your own citizens.  It's like saying 'more water' is the solution to a bucket with a hole in the bottom, rather than a fix to the bucket

The root of this insane policy is that the USA is dominated by entities (multinational corporations that were once called 'corporate America') that can survive the overall demise of the USA.  Foreign workers with their own lobbies can just go home if it gets bad enough, they really have little to lose in policies that hurt the USA.  When an entity is dominated by other entities that can survive it's demise, it becomes little more than a carcass to feed on - this issue is no longer whether to help it survive, but rather to get your share of the feeding

But the citizens, with their feet in nowhere but the USA, are screwed.  The average citizen isnt mentally adjusted to the idea of just grabbing what you can, and thinking about where he/she will go when the USA is trashed (at least most citizens arent, anyway)

this is, in my opinion, why we are where we are

Sep 12, 2011 7:28 PM AustinTx AustinTx  says:

The government can create jobs...

If you say they destroy them, then they can create them by not doing what they do to destroy them...but that's just semantics, read-on...

Now let's talk about a real solution...

Death-By-Foreign-National is not laissez-faire!

Death-By-Foreign-National is not free-market!

MNCs' are not in charge of U.S.immigration.

Start Article:

MUMBAI:US diplomat Peter Haas, recently appointed consul-general in Mumbai, stressed the importance of people-to-people contact in Indo-US ties.

US-India people-to-people connections are more powerful than any government initiative, said Haas."While 8 lakh Americans travel to India each year, the US issues half a million non-immigration visas to Indians yearly," he said adding that Indian citizens formed the largest group of people to be issued H1B and L visas by the US over the last year.

End Article.

How, can anyone speak of returning jobs to Americans, while they ignore, or worse, condone, the continued replacement of Americans, in American offices and worksites, with foreign nationals, at a clip of' hundreds of thousands (we are not told the exact number!more likely, all-told, closer to a million or more) per year?!

There are real solutions, not lies masquerading as same...

Start Article:

The J-1 student work-travel program was created in 1961 to offer work opportunities and cultural enrichment for foreign students, and in the process, create goodwill ambassadors for the United States.

Today, students from Poland, China, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus sign up and pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of meeting Americans and practicing English.

But the kids aren't working in professional settings that complement their studies.They're toiling in warehouses for huge companies such as Hershey's, which have laid off hundreds of workers, and resorts, from Disney World to Morey's Pier in Wildwood, and for much lower wages than Americans earned doing the same tasks.

Companies who hire J-1s are not required to advertise to American workers first.It's a great deal for U.S.companies, because they don't have to pay payroll taxes, Social Security or health insurance for J-1s.

One Spring Lake staffing company even has a nifty calculator to help businesses compare the costs of hiring J-1 vs.American workers.

Gee, thanks, fellas.During one of the most vicious unemployment downturns in memory, this is spitting in the eye of jobless Americans.

End Article.

H-1b, L-1s, OPT, J-1, B-1, lotteries, green-cards, and on and on, and on, and on, it is no longer enough to stand as a nation and compete with the world-at-large, but no, the world at large will be brought to you, so that you may compete with them in your own offices and worksites...

And you will be competing for suppressed wages, and even where qualified, will most likely be cleverly bypassed by the multi-national corporate slave owners, masquerading as U.S., sovereign entities...

We won't even talk about national security!

In a sane world, visas such as H-1b, (also referred to, incorrectly, as H1b) L-1, etc., would be suspended.Millions of our better paying jobs would be instantly made available, in America, for Americans.

Over two (2) decades of alphabet-soup visas like H-1b, etc., have decimated the tech sector, and are impacting other U.S. Reply

Sep 12, 2011 7:28 PM AustinTx AustinTx  says:
based jobs, such as, nursing, teaching, etc.

The rabbit hole is deep, and wide spread I cannot possibly explain just how treasonous these suicidal

policies are, and keep this comment brief.

We should also revoke some or all green-cards.Again, a massive number of American jobs would be returned to Americans.

And then there is the issue of sending our jobs offshore, often implemented by those brought to our country on visa, or those having become a green-card holder, who then coordinate the shipping of entire

departments, knowledge-bases out of our country, ultimately, entire industries.

Then for the low to medium wage jobs, we can look at the wide-open borders, and the traitors that advocate a nation without enforcement of its own borders, its laws, and disinterest in its own sovereign best-interest, survival.

And yes, it is Americans who have facilitated this betrayal of Americans, by corporations, supported by a sold-out government and press.

Constantly having your leg peed-on, and being told that it is raining, is the insult-to-injury!

The instigators, their apparatchik, the collaborators, the enemy-within, the useful-idiots, are p*ssing' on our nation's workforce, and cheap labor, political-correctness, are their weapons of choice."

Sep 13, 2011 8:52 AM jobs4us jobs4us  says: in response to hoapres

If the government wants to create US jobs for US citizens it must provide oversight and enforcement to prevent unscrupulous corporations and their highly paid lawyers who lawyer their way into creating  loopholes in economic stimulus programs designed to create American jobs for Americans.  These programs are intended to help unemployed Americans many lost as a result of outsourcing.  Sadly, India outsourcers have grabbed the opportunity to outsource these jobs too.

Case in point, Epic, an electronic medical records technology company.

Despite HHS and DOL taxpayer funded economic stimulus dollars for job training to create jobs in healthcare information technology, Epic exclusively provides its training to its customers and partners.

India's Epic partners provide free Epic training and placement for India visa workers for jobs in the US.  Check Naukri, Monsterindia, etc you will see boatloads of Epic job ads - many outsourcing companies specifically advertise for B1/B2 visa holders to work onsite - illegally - in the US. 

Epic is realizing tremendous growth in their business because US healthcare providers are buying their stuff now to cash in on generous financial incentives to implement EMR applications (funded by US taxpayers).

BUT Epic only provides training to its customers and partners... Even though they offer eLearning courses, they discriminate against American citizens who are unemployed or do not work for a hospital or Indian outsourcer.

Every day Americans are prohibited from registering for training US taxpayers have funded, and deprived a fair chance to compete for jobs in healthcare IT in organizations that receive $$$$ for hiring trained resources.

Is this messed up or what?

Despicable - the inmates guard the asylum and take every opportunity to bypass American talent.

Please - challenge greedy corporations and paid off politicians the next time you hear them whine about the lack of skilled American tech talent - THIS IS WHY.   Give them the facts and ask them what they are doing to fix the problem.   Pleas your elected officials to demand they close loopholes i economic stimulus programs to create US jobs that get outsourced to India.

Sep 13, 2011 1:33 PM Dolores Dolores  says: in response to hoapres

I've applied to federal jobs that had everything "me" but my picture. I've taken classes on how to fill out the application from veterans of federal jobs. But I haven't even gotten an interview and when I asked for feedback, I was informed that the returning veterans, with their veterans preference points, are beating us civilians out badly. Their points are enough in many cases to put them at the top of the list to be interviewed.

But this is good news for those of you who are veterans.

Sep 14, 2011 4:57 PM Ex_Epic-er Ex_Epic-er  says: in response to jobs4us

I used to work for Epic and even though I left because it wasn't my cup of tea, I want to point out that this post is a lie and slanderous at best.

Epic swings far left and is all about opposing unions, lawyers and lobbying. They do make a boatload of money by training customers, but if the customers choose to hire H-1Bs or B-1s to receive this training, it is these customers (large healthcare orgs) that should be scrutinized.

Epic went through a healthy H-1B hiring phase in the mid 2000s, but has scaled back considerably since the recession began. They do hire a large number of developers on H-1Bs, but last I check, they haven't stopped hiring a large number of American citizens each month since 6-7 years ago.

Sep 14, 2011 4:59 PM Ex-Epic-er Ex-Epic-er  says: in response to Ex_Epic-er

I meant they oppose union-bashing management...quite the opposite of opposing unions! Epic however would never allow its employees to unionize. It takes decent care of them though.


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