Tech & Work

Tips for finding a job in the public sector

A TechRepublic member asks how to find a job working for the government. Read our career columnist's advice on networking for public sector jobs, working around hiring freezes, and using the Web to your benefit.


Question: Do you know how to find out about IT jobs in the public sector? I would like to work for the city of Cleveland and do not have the first idea on how to inquire about jobs. I know for a fact that they are going to need IT support specialists, and I want to be one of the first interviewed.

Answer: Traditionally, public sector jobs (i.e., government jobs) have been among the best kinds of jobs to have. Good benefits, steadily increasing pay commensurate with job grade, and strong unions have helped make them that way. Today, though, with the economy the way it is, many governments from the federal level on down have instituted hiring freezes.

I am afraid that affects you and your desire to work for the city of Cleveland. If you visit the official Web site for the city and click on the career center section of the site, you will see a prominent note that the city is under a hiring freeze. There are a few jobs posted there, but none are IT related.

All is not lost, however. Hiring freezes never last forever, and even when a city or company is under a hiring freeze, that does not mean they aren’t hiring anyone. Most organizations will still hire to replace workers who leave—they just can’t create new positions.

If you live in the Cleveland area, you should network with other IT professionals by going to the meetings and participating in the online chatter of any Web-based IT groups. Make it known early and often that you are looking for a job with the city. You never know—perhaps a company that has an IT-related contract with the city will hear about job openings through the grapevine and will pass the word along to you.

You should also read the help-wanted section of the newspapers in the area on a weekly basis. Government human resource departments are often required to advertise a job opening as part of their equal opportunity mandates. If you don’t live in the area, you can still get the papers regularly (if a few days late) by subscribing to them.

What’s on your mind?
Do you have a career question for Molly? If so, send us an e-mail or post a comment at the end of this article.

Job sites
Some job sites, such as Flipdog.com, list public sector jobs. Make sure that when you set up your search profile, you set up broad search criteria. In your case I would recommend using Ohio instead of Cleveland. That way you will still find relevant jobs even if they are in the area around Cleveland rather than inside the city limits. Two other sites that might be of use to you in Cleveland are the State of Ohio Jobs site and the Ohio Department of Education site.

For those readers who are interested in public sector jobs but who are not in Cleveland, state and local governments are wising up to the value and ease of posting jobs on their Web sites. Look for the official Web site for the area (city, state, region) that you’d like to live and work in and search the career section of that site.

For those who may be interested in an IT job with the Federal Government, the Federal Jobs Digest is a great source for current job openings. On a recent visit to the site, I found 285 IT Specialist job openings and about 100 other computer-related jobs. To view the openings, you can either post your resume and see them for free, or pay a small fee ($10) to read the details on the openings.

The United States Office of Personnel Management has a Web site too. On this site, IT jobs are listed in a separate section, and there is a very clear explanation of job grades, associated salaries, and job requirements. You can search for jobs in a pay range and by state.

Whether you’re looking for a city, state, or federal job, you should be aware that more and more IT jobs are open only to U.S. citizens and legal residents. Some particularly security-sensitive jobs are open only to U.S. citizens.

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