Stewart Liff on Starting a Government Job

Stewart LiffWhile last week we heard from Lily Whiteman, this week we have a guest post by Stewart Liff, author of Managing Your Government Career and Managing Government Employees.

While the economy is shrinking, the stock market falling and millions of people are losing their jobs, government agencies are expecting billions of dollars from the stimulus bill. It is estimated that the number of government jobs created will range from 244,000 to 600,000. Moreover, these estimates do not include the vacancies that normally occur in government due to turnover (retirement, resignation, transfer, removal, etc.). Even though the impact of the stimulus bill has not yet been felt, the federal government is currently looking to fill over 41,000 jobs worldwide. Furthermore, this figure does not count vacancies at the state and local levels. From the available pool of jobs, there are approximately 19 million government jobs at the federal, state and local level.

The current situation is causing many people to look more closely at the government as an employer, which certainly make sense in an era of uncertainty.

One of the aspects of government employment that makes it so attractive is job security. After all, the government does not have to make a profit, generally offers far more security than the private sector, and is usually immune from the ups and downs of the economy, especially at the federal level. Moreover, with people worrying about or actually losing their healthcare benefits, it is well known that the government offers a variety of competitive benefits at a more than reasonable price. Finally, the government offers competitive pay (although you won’t get rich on it). For example, you can earn up to $177,700 as a senior executive at the federal level, and in some cases you can make even more.

So how you go about finding a job with the government? At the federal level, start with the website This is the official job site of the federal government and the public’s one-stop source about federal jobs and employment information. At the state or local level, you can either go to each entity’s individual website or look at websites that contain links to all of these sites such as or State and Local Government on the Net, which lists over 11,000 websites.

Once you actually start looking at these jobs, I suspect you will find the process to be a bit overwhelming to say the least. You will be hit with nomenclature you are unfamiliar with (What does GS-201-5/11 mean? What is a term appointment versus a career-conditional appointment?). Moreover, some vacancy announcements will ask you to answer as many as 150 questions; others will ask you to write a series of paragraphs about your knowledge, skills and abilities; and some will require both. Applying for just one job can take several hours and there are many jobs to choose from, so how do you decide which jobs to apply for and at what level of government? Moreover, how do you best position yourself to get a good job with the government?

While it may take some time to learn the ins-and-outs of government jobs, now is a great time to take the opportunity to work for your country in a secure and stable job.

Stewart Liff is the author of Managing Your Government Career and Managing Government Employees. He began his career with the federal government in 1974. He is a winner of the President’s Council on Management Improvement Award and the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Service.


2 responses to “Stewart Liff on Starting a Government Job

  1. Pingback: Topics about Jobs » Archive » Guest Post: Stewart Liff on Starting a Government Job « AMACOM …

  2. Can I simply say what a relief to find somebody that really understands what they’re talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people must look at this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you aren’t more popular because you certainly have the gift.

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