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writing for godot

Advice for the Newly Employed Federal Worker – 9 Tips for Success

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Written by giltner   
Thursday, 18 May 2017 19:52

There is a hiring freeze – of sorts. When President Trump issued his executive order, placing an across-the-board federal employment freeze, issues immediately began to pop up. For example, the VA, whose troubles are almost completely a result of being short-staffed, immediately raised a protest. Since that time, Trump has backed off a bit and, in recent days, even called for an increase in 15,000 positions in some critical areas. Still, the overall goal is to decrease the size of the civil service workforce.

If you are one of the “lucky ones” to actually get an interview and an offer during this “tight” time, there are some things you will want to think about as you begin your new job.

1. You are the New Kid

Just as you would in any new job, you have to understand that, as a new hire, you do not understand your new environment. If you have not done some research on the civil service in general and your department specifically, you are entering your new job at a big disadvantage. Do your research and understand all of the functions of the government agency or department for which you work. And, most important, learn the “pecking order” in your department. Who reports to whom? There is a chain of command – commit it to memory until it becomes natural.

2.  Listen, and Do Ask Questions

Think about your first days as a first date. Get to know the people with whom you will be working. Just because you are a civil servant now does not mean there are not cliques and office politics. Your job is to keep your eyes open, your ear to the ground and to be friendly with everyone. You cannot simply “play” like you know everything about your job and your department. Ask questions – no one will think you dumb for doing so.

3. Make the SOP Your Bible

You have work to do. Getting the job, understanding your task responsibilities, and getting down to work is only a part of what you must do as a “newbie.” Learn the policies and procedures; keep them close. Refer to them as you need to. These are critical operating procedures that will be a part of your work life from now on. The concept of bureaucracy is alive and well in civil service.

4. Remember You are Part of a Team

Teamwork means taking initiative and pitching in where and when it is needed. Government offices and departments are no different from those of private business. Everyone has a job description and unique tasks. But when the “going gets tough,” the greatly appreciated team members are those who pitch in. Find ways to do this often. Remember, you got this position because you did well on a test. Now you are here, and it’s time to pitch in big time and prove that all that you said on that resume and during that interview you meant. (Source: http://resumescentre.com/federal-resume )

5. Prepare for Change/Exhibit Flexibility

There is a new administration in charge. People are on edge. New executive orders and new laws and regulations may impact your workplace. Things may become uncertain and stress-producing. Your job tasks could change overnight. Read every memo that comes down the pike carefully. You may become overwhelmed, but find reliable others you can trust to give you the right answers.

6. Don’t Think Office Politics is Only for Private Industry

Every organization has its share of “politics.” The most important thing as a newbie is not to be drawn into cliques or “groups,” especially if they are formed for the purpose of gossip, complaining, etc. Those who stay above this are usually those who are most respected in the long run.

7. Research Your Benefits/Protections

Like any organization, you have protections and benefits. You have health insurance, life insurance, an amount of sick leave and an amount of annual leave. You can also take part in a TSP – like a 401K or IRA where taxes are deferred. You need to know what will happen to these benefits, if you choose to leave civil service for a position in private industry. While this may not seem plausible right now, consider that there could be “Reductions in Force” at any time.

8. Don’t Come Off as Aggressive

You will undoubtedly have your share of meetings. Tray to refrain from making comments and suggestions too early on. No one trusts you yet, so lay low.

9. Learn and Remember Names

This is no different than entering a new work place anywhere. These are people you will be working with on a daily basis. It is a sign of your interest in your colleagues, if you learn names immediately and call them by their names.

Every government office and department is different. They have their own “cultures,” just like any office or department does in the private sector. While operating procedures and regulations may be more codified with respect to federal employment, there are also unwritten and informal “rules” that are in place. Your job as a new employee is to learn both, to adapt, to become a known quality, and to make yourself valuable to your fellow workers.

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