Federal government to the rescue

My dad left me a message the other day. He was calling to check in, offer some encouragement in my job search and mention an interesting piece of info he’d seen. A big employer is hiring, maybe the biggest. The federal government has all kinds of openings in various locations, across departments and industries. And not just cabinet-level appointees in the Obama administration, but actual jobs for real people. He suggested, as he has for 15 years, that I submit my resume.

I grew up in suburban Maryland, not too far outside of the Capital Beltway. My dad was a government employee for much of my childhood, as were the parents of many friends. They were the biggest game in town, like Entertainment was to Los Angeles or Finance to New York. Everyone seemed to work for the government, or companies contracted by the government. But there was nothing remotely sexy or glamorous about it, not to me. It looked like just a job, and an unappealing one at that.

I always poo-pooed a career in civil service, whenever my dad brought it up. The pay was low. The work was boring. And the opportunities for glory and riches, or even an upper middle-class life seemed to be nil. Besides, who wanted to sit at a small desk in a nondescript office building pouring over numbers or files or whatever it was that he did? Not me. I was going to realize my dreams in the music industry.

I graduated from college in 1994 and received my MBA in 2005. I live in New York City, and have been laid off three times in the last three years, most recently this past October. Months of unemployment have followed each layoff. My music industry career – including stints at a website, a label and a now infamous trade organization – is likely over. I spend my days looking at job boards and sending out resumes. My dad continues to work for the same government agency, as he has since the early 1990s. The steady paycheck that I shrugged off growing up is looking pretty good right about now.

I went to the official government job site – USAJobs – to see what exactly my dad was talking about. The homepage boasted 45,014 job openings worldwide. That’s promising, but I need positions closer to home and reachable by public transportation. A narrowed search yielded 96 openings in New York, ranging from Air Traffic Controller to Education Specialist to Molecular Biologist. The salaries fall on the low side (though still reasonable) and the positions outside my skill set. But a little investigating revealed that I may just be qualified to do more than I thought. Compliance Examiner anyone?

My resume isn’t set up for government openings. And the hiring process can take months longer than many people can wait. But my dad wasn’t imaging things; the federal government has job openings, and will likely have more as the stimulus package unfolds and banks fail. They may not punch my ticket on the express train to fame and fortune. But these days, I’d be happy to just stay in the middle class.

Be Sociable, Share!
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!


  1. Imee wrote:

    That’s a nice way of looking at things. I mean if I lost my job too and found that the government is hiring, I wouldn’t jump at the chance that instantly. I don’t really believe in jobs anyway. I believe in careers and callings. I wouldn’t be caught dead doing something I’m not into just for the sake of money. Call me crazy but my optimism has gotten me two pretty good jobs right now that are still paying me just enough despite the recession. I couldn’t complain.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 6:35 am | Permalink
  2. Tina wrote:

    IMEE: I too believe in careers and callings. More to the point I believe in following your passion. However, there is no honeymoon phase when you’re laid off and passion doesn’t pay the bills. A government job with a good pension plan looks great right now.

    You are lucky to be still be gainfully employed apparently doing what you enjoy. Congratulations.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 10:33 am | Permalink
  3. Tina wrote:

    Norm: Excellent post. I’ve also been checking the listings for my city and county. Many people are changing their career paths out of necessity and hopefully your post will bring opportunity to those who may not have thought about working for Uncle Sam.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 10:35 am | Permalink
  4. Dalilama wrote:

    Along those Governemnt lines, as I advertise on a daily basis, the Army is hiring too…

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  5. no job;( wrote:

    Checked it out. Theres not much in the way of marketing jobs for the likes of us though.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 11:23 am | Permalink
  6. Karol wrote:

    Careers are fine, but I have to agree with Tina. Unemployment has hit an all time high, and one is lucky to get what they can. My husband retired from the military. If we had stayed in Maryland, he would still be working for Uncle Sam as a civilian, but we moved to a rural area to be closer to my family. Unfortunately lay-offs are high here and we are moving outwest, where he has a job, and yes, the government has employment there as well. If you have a job doing what you enjoy, that is great and I am happy for you IMEE.You obviously feel like you have nothing to lose. However, for those that do and who can’t find work, working for Uncle Sam offers pensions, steady pay, some benefits and steady work and openings in many fields. When you have been laid-off and hope runs out, getting a Government job seems ideal. I beleive if you qualify, go for it. It might suprise you in the satisfaction aspect. Stereo typing can be a horrible thing but I have friends that work for the Government and they enjoy it and the benefits of holidays and most weekends off, and sometimes short days. I miss it. If I had known then what I know now…. I say go for it, and give it a chance.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Permalink
  7. Catherine wrote:

    Congress just passed a bill which massively increased funding for Americorps….if you go to Americorps.gov, you can see all the jobs, all over the country….it is perfect for those without pets, kids. or spouses, and you can pick what part of the country you apply to….my graduating college student is applying for several positions, to ride out this recession. You get a living allowance, health insurance, and you work in the program for a year….recent college grads also get their loans paid off….

    Sunday, April 5, 2009 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. JoblessandLess (Norm Elrod) on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 1:05 am

    New blog post: Federal government to the rescue http://tinyurl.com/co9f9l

  2. […] Federal government to the rescue | Jobless and Less […]