Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Private VS Public: The challenges in dealing with the Government

Posted by sweens on March 13, 2009

One of the big challenges the Ottawa market faces in the work force is the difference between the private sector and the public sector.  Both represent large beasts that struggle to be tamed on a frequent basis.  Let us look at some of the major differences in trying to gain employment in both.


I would suggest that the two main differences between the two are the method of getting in and the way in which you are evaluated.  To get into the Government as a permanent employee takes a long time and usually the more people you know, the better.  I have already discussed the hiring cycle with the Government so let us not repeat such a thrilling topic. 


If you are tired of waiting to get in as an employee you can contract in.  In order to do so, you need to find a procurement vehicle to get in.  Most people end up using an agency that stay in business by placing people into the Government on contract via these procurement vehicles.  While it can be frustrating, this is the way the Government works.  They can not just say “I like Steve Smith and I want to give him this contract.”  They need to begin a competitive process so that others can compete for the business.


Private sector companies do have this ability to work with someone or an agency and simply hire the individual that is of interest to them.  They often provide a list of requirements to an agency and review resumes accordingly while evaluating the candidate based on what their needs are and then proceed to an interview.  This is not always the case with the Government. 


Government usually has candidates fill out detailed skills grids demonstrating their experience.  This process is usually not very labour intensive but certainly slows the process down.  This is done so that everyone who is submitted against a competitive bid can be evaluated in the same manor and everyone can view what the requirements are.  This also leaves the department less vulnerable to someone challenging their hiring decisions as candidates are screened, scored and evaluated the same way based on a specific requirement.


While some candidates may prefer dealing with the private sector or the public sector over the other, understanding how the evaluation for each side is done is essential to finding gainful employment on either side.  Private sector values work experience and places importance on the interview.  Public sector values metrics and places importance on how you compare against similar candidates.


Oh, I forgot to mention that price ALWAYS plays a key in hiring decisions. 


So whether you are interested in public or private sector opportunities, you need to be aware that both sectors have different values when it comes to making a hiring decision.  Understanding this decision is an important element to your job search.


I also forgot to mention, that the Government spends Billions of Dollars every year on contracting.  Something to think about as the private sector slows down right now.

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