Five tips to kick start your public sector career

Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) recently launched a multimedia recruitment campaign to fill over 300 posts within the department, and in anticipation of a worker shortage resulting from retiring baby boomers.

PWGSC assistant deputy minister of human resources Diane Lorenzato recently spoke with about the campaign. She also offered some valuable tips if you’re looking to kick start your career in the public sector.

Do your homework. Check out the job application tips that are available on the PWGSC Web site, Lorenzato said. That section can help you understand how the job selection process in government works.

If you need help writing your resume and cover letter, this section might be worth checking out, as well.

“Every job has identified essential qualifications, and people are being screened based on how well they meet those essential qualifications,” she said.

It’s who you know. Take some time to speak with people who know what it’s actually like to work within the public sector, and to learn about what opportunities exist within government.

The video testimonials of young government workers on the PWGSC site, referred to as “ambassadors”, are an informative way to get an insider’s view of working for the government.

“Having young people telling you as a potential recruit what it’s like working in the government makes it much more relevant because it’s not trying to convince you that it’s a great place, it’s people truly enjoying what they’re doing, and telling you why they love working in the public service,” said Lorenzato.

Lorenzato said that within the public service is a commitment to continuous learning and the ability to work for one of the biggest employers in Canada.

“When you look at the public service we’re talking about more than 200,000 jobs, so you have tremendous room to grow,” she said. “The other thing is a true commitment for employees to have a work/life balance – that’s a key element.”

If career development is what you seek, take heed. PWGSC has developed a series of development programs that involve a dedicated mentor, a development module and some in-class training.

Know thyself. One of the areas for which PWGSC is recruiting is in the Information Technology Service Branch (ITSB), which is looking to attract “technical wizards”, said Lorenzato. But being a tech whiz can mean many different types and streams of positions.

“For example it can range from managing a departmental network, system operation and maintenance, performing system analysis or providing help desk services and testing new systems, it covers a wide array of IT expertise,” she said.

Know where your expertise lie and showcase that on your application. If you’re looking to advance your IT career in the public sector, there is plenty of opportunity.

Lorenzato said that one of the challenges with attracting and retaining IT talent is that the available pool professionals are getting scarce, as educational institutions experience continuing decline in computer science enrolment.

“That’s one of our concerns because if we’re not getting graduates as we should, then the industry and the government will be competing for very scarce resources. We are concerned that we may not have enough specialists for all of the jobs that will be available.”

Attend industry fairs and campus recruitment. If you’re fresh out of school and the government is where you want to be, pay attention to campus career days. The government is actively recruiting in college and university campuses, so take the time to find out when they’re going to be in your campus and come prepared with copies of your resume and references.

Lorenzato said that PWGSC is embarking on a campus tour involving more than 100 universities.

“We have produced a small business card with the Web site address so that we can actually give the card to potential candidates that might be interested in a career with PWGSC,” she said.

She added that PWGSC also has specialized teams that are visiting some campuses to recruit for specific career expertise, such as finance.

“Our finance branch is now complementing the public service and the PWGSC campaign by going to the campuses that have financial programs, and trying to recruit candidates.”

So far the PWGSC has visited the University du Quebec, Carleton University, and the University of Ottawa, said Lorenzato. Recruitment will also be conducted at the Canada Career Week job fair this month, and the department will also be participating in the Financial Management Institute of Canada professional development week.

Tap into online resources. In addition to tips for job applicants on the PWGSC Web site, there are also descriptions of the various career paths available, and a few video clips of young workers in the department. You can also try the following resources:

PWGSC employee profiles
– current job openings for graduates
– various career path descriptions including financial management and human resources
career contacts
– a “post secondary corner” with information on internships and development programs

Attitude also plays an important role in landing a job with the public sector, said Lorenzato.

“Anyone who wants to have a great career in the government is someone who has an open mind, positive attitude, works hard and enjoys working with people,” she said. “Ultimately, you are in charge of your career and you will take your career where you want.”

Related content:

PWGSC launches recruitment campaign to bridge baby boomer gap

Skills shortage gets public attention

IT skills for Canada’s public sector market – finders, keepers

ICT sector should retain baby boomers say expert

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