You have had a distinguished career working as a senior leader in the Federal Government or in a State Government system. As you progressed in your career, you achieved increasingly important and influential public leadership, administrative and decision-making roles. You also expanded your executive knowledge and ability into a fully developed skill set that has allowed you to be successful in the public sector.
Following a career in public service, options opened, in the past, including becoming a lobbyist and working the Hill or being a consultant in a government-funded or a nonprofit organization. In these positions, you could help that entity win contracts, navigate the maze of government regulations, policies and procedures, and contribute in a significant way to the betterment of that organization.
Today these avenues are becoming limited and fiscally restricted. The scope of these past opportunities has diminished rapidly, due to fiscal constraints in the U.S. economy and other international influences.
Therefore, a specific option you may wish to consider is working for a company that enjoys fiscal independence in the nondefense sector; a company not dependent upon Federal or State funding.
As you consider companies in this sector of the economy, it is important to remember that the private sector views government employees with mixed feelings. The general consensus around the country is summed up in the following statement:.
“You have spent your career in government. You have never managed a P&L, nor do you have skills that I can see that will add to my top or bottom line. So what could you do for me to help me achieve my corporate goals? There are many qualified private sector applicants. Why should I hire you over them?”
Not only are those questions at the forefront of their thinking, they also make the assumption that because you come from a government background, you have no interest in timing, efficiencies, economies or agility.
We know that this is NOT true. However, to deny this reality is an avoidance strategy and will not help you achieve your long-term goals.
Your job search planning, strategy design and implementation must address the issue of how do you alter this line of thinking and clearly demonstrate that you have managed the public trust effectively and efficiently and you have used the most current management techniques to make improvements.
You must be able to convey your abilities into terms they can agree with and comprehend. Your achievements and contributions must be understood, as well. They need to be convinced that hiring you will bring value-add to their company.
You are unaware of which companies have these preconceived ideas and those who do not. It is not wise to make general assumptions. It is very competitive in today’s job market and it is your job to help the private sector comprehend your value and put aside their generalizations.
When you address the private sector job market you must ask yourself at least these questions:
- “How do I know what my value is to the non-defense sector?”
- “Which of my many skills do I present to confirm my value-add?”
- “How do I gain knowledge of their thinking?”
- “How do I help them overcome false assumptions and communicate my value proposition so they perceive my value to their company?”