Mythbusting 5 misconceptions about working in the public sector

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It’s no secret that Canadian students are really interested in working for public sector employers.

Last year, more than 16,000 college and university students ranked the Government of Canada, provincial and municipal governments, Health Canada, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Public Service Commission among the Top 25 campus employers overall, and many more public sector employers made the rankings broken down by discipline.

But despite being so popular among students, public sector work is still misunderstood. Its often ranked so highly by students compared to other organizations because working for the government is arguably the most stable type of job to have, especially following the recent economic downtown.

However, there are plenty of more positive reasons to want to work in the public sector. We teamed up with Industry Canada human resources manager Linne Fournier, who manages the university recruitment team that hires economics and commerce officers, to bust five of the biggest misconceptions about working for government organizations.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to read an article where Fournier switches gears and dishes on the best parts about working in the public sector.

Myth #1
Public sector workers just sit at a desk “pushing paper” all day – their jobs don’t offer much challenge and they don’t experience much variety, creativity or teamwork in their jobs.

All of the positions I’ve held in the public service prove to me that this is by far the biggest myth. In fact, my current work in human resources could not be further from pushing paper.

Every day, my work enables me to tackle multiple challenges in recruitment, labour relations, classification and human resources planning to name but a few.

From discussing innovative approaches with the experts to meeting with top university graduates for economist positions, my work and many of the positions in the public service (I see many of them coming through HR) provide variety, creativity and teamwork.

Myth #2
There’s not much opportunity for personal or professional growth in public sector careers, either in the form of additional education and training, or through upward promotion.

In order to bust this myth, I can briefly speak of my experience in the public sector over the past nine years. In a short span of time, I have had the opportunity to work in two departments.

Internal opportunities are very accessible to employees and well supported as can be seen in collective agreements – there is paid leave for participating in internal staffing processes.

In addition, I have completed many courses and participated in several forums in support of my work. The combination of training and education with the support of my peers and colleagues has enabled me to progress at a level which provides me with great personal and professional satisfaction.

Myth #3
Most government jobs are not rewarding – they just don’t make a difference in people’s lives.

Again, this statement could not be further from the truth in my experience. My work does make a difference in the lives of all Canadians and I can see the direct and indirect results of this every day.

As one example, my work consists of recruiting the very best economists and policy makers who shape and affect the outcome of important industries in Canada such as the automotive industry.

In recruiting the very best players in the most time and cost effective manner, I’m helping the Canadian economy in a time of crisis.

Myth #4
All government jobs at the federal level are only located in Ottawa, or only in capital cities at the provincial level.

Although many government jobs can be found in Ottawa and other capital cities at the provincial level, many opportunities do exists in smaller communities. Prior to my job with Industry Canada, I worked for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. This department is the face of Canadian government in local communities all over Canada.

In fact, most federal departments, in particular those who provide a direct service to Canadians can be found in cities and towns everywhere in the country.

Employment opportunities all over Canada are posted every day and can be researched by specific region. More than 75 federal organizations are seeking individuals with a range of skills and competencies and the jobs.gc.ca website is a great place to start that search.

Myth #5
Public sector jobs at all three levels of government (federal, provincial and municipal) always require fluency in both English and French.

Although many positions at the federal level require fluency in both English and French, there are a number of positions across Canada that don’t.

Furthermore, more and more emphasis is now placed on recruiting individuals who speak other languages. Many advertisements place an importance and view it as a true asset to master other languages to better reflect Canada’s population.

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About the author

Cassandra Jowett is TalentEgg's Content Manager. She joined the team as a student intern in the summer of 2008, and since then her heart has never really left the Egg Carton. Cassandra is a recent graduate of the Ryerson University School of Journalism, where she earned a Bachelor of Journalism with a focus in writing and editing for newspapers. She has also written and edited for The Globe and Mail, The National Post, t.o.night newspaper and other publications.