Considering a Career Change

Considering a Career Change

amaxwell@govexec.com

Tired of working for the federal government?

If you answered yes to that question, now is the time to make your move to the private sector, according to Gill Yancey, chairman of the Federal Workforce Transition Committee of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

Yancey and several former federal employees gave advice to employees considering leaving government Wednesday during an Office of Personnel Management "Federal HR Forum" entitled "Stepping Out of Your Federal Career."

"Shifting employment sectors is a grave undertaking," Yancey said. "But if there is ever a time to make a change from the public to private sector, now is the time."

Although until recently the private sector has been on a downsizing "binge" similar to the federal government, Yancey said, more than 19 million new jobs will be created in the private sector over the next 10 years.

Phyllis Hughes, a former federal employee who now runs her own management consulting firm, said at the time she made the break from the government she knew she was ready.

"I reached the point where I had outgrown the federal government," she said.

Susan Stickle, a federal employee for 15 years, now serves as a manager at a private software corporation.

"In the federal government my growth potential was being stifled," she said. "But the skills I learned in the federal sector have really benefited me in the private sector."

Yancey suggested that federal employees should not wait until a reduction in force to become prepared for a new job.

"Don't wait until the war has started," he urged. "The time to prepare is now."

Private companies, like the federal government, look for job candidates with leadership skills, strategic thinking abilities, flexibility, interpersonal skills and a drive to obtain results, Yancey said.

He said job-seekers can increase their marketability by remaining effective in their current position, engaging in continuous learning on the job and developing a resume that reads like a sales brochure.

Andrea Gill, an attorney at the Office of Government Ethics, offered ethical advice during the satellite broadcast to employees considering the sector switch.

People who have held a government job are permanently barred in the private sector from "representing a person or business back to the government," she said.

Those employees are also barred for two years from becoming involved in government matters formerly under that employee's supervision.

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