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If job security, an attractive array of benefits, great prospects for professional growth, and the opportunity to help other citizens sound good to you, then you may be ready for a career in government. But without the right guidance, finding and getting hired for the position that's right for you could be a tricky business-not to mention succeeding and thriving in your role, and taking advantage of future opportunities.
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About the Author
Stewart Liff was born in Flushing, New York in 1951 and moved to Santa Clarita, California in 1994. A classically trained artist, he worked for the Federal government for 32 years, where he led several transformation efforts. One of them led to Vice President Al Gore presenting his office with his first Hammer Award for reinventing government. The second effort resulted in his office winning OPM's prestigious PILLAR (Performance Incentives Leadership Linked to Achieving Results) Award. He has written six books, four on managing in government, one on visual management and his most recent book, A Team of Leaders, with Paul Gustavson, which was recently named one of the 30 best books of 2014 by Soundview Executive Book Summaries.
Read an Excerpt
THIS BOOK IS INTENDED as a companion piece to my last book, Managing Government Employees: How to Motivate Them, Deal
With Difficult Issues and Produce Tangible Results (AMACOM, February
2007). Whenever I gave presentations about that book, people remarked that it was about time someone wrote a book dealing with the problems that are unique to the government. It seems that the book has struck a nerve, and I continue to hear that officials in different sectors of the government are using it to help them manage their employees.
For example, Managing Government Employees is the one book that the state of New Jersey recommends for all candidates who are taking the
Sheriff’s Promotional Exam. I am truly grateful for the reaction to this book, since my goal in writing it was to improve the way government is managed.
After completing it, I had no intention of doing a follow-up book.
However, since the first book was written from a ‘‘top-down’’ perspective and many people were urging me to write one from a ‘‘bottom-up’’ point of view, I finally decided to tackle the subject of Managing Your Government
This book is organized into three parts. Part 1 addresses whether working for the government is right for you and, if it is, how to get into the government. Part 2 discusses how to get off to a good start, build a good relationship with your supervisor, and develop some perspective.
The last part is for people who have been with the government for a while and are trying to make the most of their career. It is the most philosophical of the three parts, and it talks about looking down the road, deciding whether management is right for you, balancing your work and family lives, and personal growth. Feel free to read the book from beginning to end, or to start with the part that best corresponds to the current stage of your career.
If there is one overriding theme of this book, it is you need to be in charge of both your career and your life. I firmly believe that the choices you make ultimately determine how successful you will be. Moreover, a also believe that the best way to make sound choices is by (1) being aware of the ramifications of those choices and (2) living your lives (business and personal) according to a consistent set of core values.
Of course, that is easier said than done, because life is not simple a and neither is working for the government. However, if you follow the guidance contained in this book, which is supplemented by many realworld examples, I am certain that you will have an excellent career and avoid the mistakes that so many other people have made and continue to make.
April 26, 2008
Excerpted from Managing Your Government Career by Stewart Liff. Copyright © 2009 by Stewart Liff. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission.
All rights reserved.
Table of Contents
Part I Getting In (Arriving) 1
Chapter 1 Should I Work for the Government and if So, Where? 3
Is the Government Right for You? 4
Federal Versus State and Local 25
Chapter 2 How Do I Get In? 32
How to Get a Government Job 33
Scanning Job Announcements 35
Your Application 45
Submitting Your Application 48
The Interview 53
Part 2 Getting Off To A Good Start (Surviving) 57
Chapter 3 In the Beginning 59
Making a Good First Impression 59
Fitting In 69
Office Romance 74
Personal Business 75
Should You Join the Union? 79
Chapter 4 Your Relationship with Your Superiors 82
Understanding Your Supervisor 83
Building a Good Relationship 98
Working for a Difficult Boss 106
Chapter 5 Developing Perspective 114
Understanding What Is Really Going On 114
Familiarize Yourself with the Local Politics and Strategy
Develop a Cadre of Mentors 121
Build a Network 126
Act Appropriately 128
How to Complain 135
Part 3 Plotting Your Career (Thriving) 139
Chapter 6 Looking Down the Road 141
Where Do I Want to Be in Five Years? Ten Years? Twenty Years? 141
Do Not Focus Exclusively on One Career Path 145
Going Into Management/Getting Exposure to Multiple Fields 147
Headquarters or the Field? 149
Staff or Line? 152
What About More Education? 155
Switching Between the Public and Private Sectors 158
Find Your Niche: Learn How to Think Creatively and Competitively 161
Chapter 7 Management 165
Is Management for Me? 165
Preparing to Go Into Management 174
How to Become a Supervisor 179
Getting Into Upper Management 181
The Challenges of Upper-Level Management 184
Chapter 8 BalancingYour Work Life and Your Family Life 190
It's a Job 191
Don't Treat the Job as if It's Life and Death 197
Follow Your Passion 200
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle 201
When Things Are Not Going Well at Work 204
Are You Willing to Move? 206
When and How to Retire 209
Chapter 9 Personal Development 213
Engage in Growth Activities 213
Study the Lives of Successful People 221
Who Is Going to Define You? 225
Smell the Roses 228