Panel: Know what you want before moving to private sector

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — With a change in government leadership coming, federal employees interested in entering private-sector work must consider what they want to ensure a new job fits them, a panel said April 30.

People considering the private sector should think about the role they want in their new career field, said Patricia Bradshaw, deputy undersecretary for civilian personnel policy in the Defense Department’s Office of the Secretary of Defense, speaking at the Interagency Resource Management Conference here. When she left the public sector the first time, Bradshaw said, she had to weigh whether she wanted to be an outside consultant or do the actual work.

Kay Ely, deputy associate director for contracting, facilities and administrative services at the Office of Personnel Management, said employees should understand what motivates them and what they want to do so they can go to the right job.

“Know yourself,” Ely said.

She also said people considering private-sector work need to find a company that matches their values and expectations. The panelists suggested asking potential employers early on about their aspirations for the job and their company’s overall mission.

The private sector differs from the public sector mainly because it focuses on the bottom line. A company will put up with a cantankerous worker if that person can make money for the company, said Sam Mok, the Labor Department’s chief financial officer. Without the ability to bring in business and make a profit, a big title from the federal government means nothing.

Dan Matthews, former Transportation Department chief information officer and now vice president of civil programs at Lockheed Martin, agreed.

“Nobody, nobody cares about what you did” if you can’t help them now,” he said.

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