Image via James Thew

Nine Tech Tips for Starting a New Government Job

Get new employees up to speed by following these tips.

The learning curve at a new government job is high. From the acronyms to the bureaucracy, a new employee has his or her work cut out. And unless you're a luddite (no offense to any luddites out there...), a big part of that learning will involve a host of IT systems and processes. 

Last week, I wrote a story about seven fundamental tips to help you start off on the right foot in a government job. Today, I’m continuing that idea but turning an eye toward technology. When you start at your department or agency, you’ll be awash in new IT systems. Some will be familiar, others…well others might make you mad.

Been using Gmail the last couple years? Time to grow up and start hating Outlook like the rest of us. Have your files neatly organized on your home computer? Just wait until you see your office’s share drive. Think sending email is simple? Just wait until you draw the ire of a higher up because you either did…or did not…CC them on an email. New employee, a magical world awaits!

Technology 101

  1. What’s your telework policy? Telework is one of the many wonderful things technology makes possible. You get to stay home and work in your underwear and the government gets to save money (Win-win! It’s the patriotic thing to do...). It can only be done if you know how to access your email remotely and the network via VPN (Virtual Private Network). First, learn your agency’s telework policy (is it allowed, expected and how often) and then work with IT and your manager to make sure you have everything you need.
  2. Study your website. Take a look at the public face of your D/A (department and agency). See what information is publicly available. Look at recent press releases from your public affairs office and follow social media accounts for your organization and its leadership.
  3. Know your social media policy. Some agencies are very big on social media. For instance, FEMA has really pushed social media in the last several years, seeing it as a great situational awareness tool for first responders. Other organizations, especially those dealing with sensitive information, would prefer you keep a light footprint and stay off at work. Know what is and isn’t acceptable to your agency—both professionally and personally.
  4. Set up your desk and mobile phones--and use them. Never underestimate the power of the telephone. Picking up the phone and calling your colleagues is an easy way to enhance your productivity (avoid spending more than 15 minutes on any one email), make personal connections and minimize the chance someone will mistake your tone as harsh--one of the key reasons we spend so much time carefully editing our emails. Better yet, whenever possible, go talk to colleagues in person. 
  5. Master the share drive. The only task more daunting than learning to talk like a fed is learning to navigate the share drive like one. A purgatory for old Word docs, spreadsheets and PowerPoint decks, the share drive is the office no man’s land. The proverbial needle in the haystack lies within. Make your own folder and commit to familiarizing yourself with important folder paths. Make desktop shortcuts as a crutch until you’ve learned to navigate efficiently.
  6. Know who to “CC” on email. You will be stunned by how quickly you can run afoul of office politics via email. Copy the wrong person, or don’t copy the right person, and you might unknowingly step right in the middle of a messy turf war. Attempt to be respectful in all communications, apologize profusely—and proceed with caution. Doing informational interviews can give you needed perspective on who needs to be, or wants to be, copied on what and when.
  7. Learn to love your specialized IT systems. Get familiar with your department’s intranet. If you want to really surprise people, tell them you have a passion for SharePoint—and actually use it. Ask for a crash course in how to use your expensing system. If you’ll be traveling, learn how to use Govtrip. Every office is different—ask your supervisor what you need to know and, if you have trouble using a system, ask a colleague or try giving your IT department a call.
  8. Read the latest guidance. Three months ago the White House released its Digital Government Strategy and in late August it released its Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) guidance. Knowing these policies will help you understand what's expected of government technology users and help you be a leader in tech best practices. 
  9. CYA (Cover Your A$$). When using technology in the public sector, remember that everything you write in an email is subject to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. There's also the growing, and very real, threat of cyber attacks. With that in mind, be responsible--resist the urge (strong though it may be) to send silly cat videos to your entire office--and remember everything you do can be accessed by others. Additionally, in navigating your own bureacracy, it's important to keep a record of your words for instances of interpersonal problems. 

I'm positive I've missed a lot. What other recommendations do you have for a new employee trying to learn the ropes of office IT systems? 

Next time: How to use your "new person" status to push the envelopes and win over colleagues

Last time: Seven Fundamental Tips for Starting a New Government Job

(Image via James Thew/Shutterstock.com)

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.