5 Ways You Can Succeed in Government Work

Most members of my career mentoring site overlook the opportunities involved in working in government.  Don’t make this mistake.  Here are five tips on how to land a job in government.

For anyone considering a career in government, you’ll be pleased to know that the opportunities are vast. From educators and legislators to lobbyists and security mavens, working in government is something that can be tailored to almost any person and any interest. That being said, being successful in your bid to work for Uncle Sam isn’t guaranteed. From being passionate to knowing what you want, here are five ways you can be successful in government work.

1. Consider Your Passion

Some people love defending their country from terrorist threats and some people love to cook. While the fact that both of these passions make you well-suited to working for the United States government may be a surprise, the nature of passion should not.

In any career, it’s ideal if the people pursuing it and then working within it are motivated by intrinsic desire not just the pursuit of a paycheck. Whether that means you end up with the Department of Homeland Security or working as a chef in the White House kitchen is entirely up to you, but you’ll only be happy and, ultimately, successful in either place if it was passion that brought you there to begin with.

2. Consider What You Want

For some people, a solid and reliable paycheck doing work that only exists between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. is the epitome of a good job. There are a number of new luxury apartments in Central Park if you’re in need of a new place to live in a great location in NYC. If that’s what you want in a job, you can certainly find it in government.

However, if what you want is a large salary, a certain level of prestige, and a high security clearance, you’re going to have to be more strategic. From the level of education required to the hoops you’ll need to jump through, some positions with the government aren’t guaranteed. Be aware of what you’re after and what it will take to achieve it, and if you work hard and are patient, you should be able to succeed — eventually — at getting close to what you want.

That being said, becoming Secretary of State is going to take a lifetime of effort, and you may never pull it off. Still, knowing what you want is an essential foundation for true success in government work.

3. Consider Location

Not every career includes the opportunity to work almost anywhere, but at the federal, state, county, and city government levels, there are literally jobs all over the country — and abroad — that you can get. Keep in mind that where you’re willing to live and work may have some bearing on the level of success you can have within government work.

Some jobs are only available within Washington DC, and if you hate big city life, you’re going to have a tough time being successful in them. By the same token, some work is easier to get in rural environments, but if you need a robust nightlife, you may not be able to hack it. Where you live has as much bearing on your success as the kind of work you’ll do, and if the two don’t line up, you’re going to have a tough time being successful.

4. Consider Your Talents

You may strongly desire a job as a congressional aid, but if you don’t have particularly good people skills, it’s going to be difficult for you to obtain one and succeed in it. It’s essential that you’re honest with yourself about your talents and your shortcomings.

Success — not just in government work, but in life overall — is greatly aided by a person’s ability to be honest with himself. If you want to work for the FBI, don’t just take a job as an administrative assistant there if you don’t enjoy that type of work or you aren’t good at it. Stick to type of work where you’re skilled, knowledgeable, and inclined — that’s the recipe for success.

5. Consider Level of Education Necessary

Depending on the job you want, the level of education you’ve achieved may also come to bear on whether or not you succeed.

Some jobs that put you on the government’s payroll only require a high school diploma or GED. Others will require you to have a Ph.D. in an advanced field. Do your research so you know what’s expected from you education-wise. Then, see to it that you meet at least the minimum requirements. Doing so will put you on the path to succeeding at whatever government work you hope to do.

Succeed in government work by following these five tips, whether you want to be a small town mayor or an engineer in the United States Army.

Your career mentor,



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