Applying for a government job (what to reveal in the application and more)
June 2, 2008 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Applying for a government job (what to reveal in the application and more)

I'm interested in applying for a government job. The job application asks you to reveal any time you were let go from a job within the past five years.

I had been let go from one job, but I was only there a short while and considered the decision "mutual" since they one let me go after I told my supervisor--twice--that I was unhappy with the position. I was able to collect unemployment. I realize it might seem "wrong" to hide it, but frankly the position just didn't work out and I don't want it to hinder me going forward.

1. If I don't reveal this, how likely is it to be found out?
2. If I do reveal this, is it likely to keep me from being considered for the position?
3. Any tips for getting into a state/local government job? Does it help to have connections? The application process seems quite formal so I'm not sure how having connections would help.
4. Anyone here have a state/local government position? How do you like it?

posted by mintchip to Work & Money (4 answers total)
Don't lie on a federal government employment application- there can be serious consequences as, I believe, doing so considered a crime. You will absolutely be subject to some sort of background check- depending on the level of clearance required by your position.

If your skills and experience are a good match for the position and if your references hold up- it is unlikely that your separation from that one particular job will have a negative impact.
posted by InstantSanitizer at 11:41 AM on June 2, 2008

1. Don't know, but if you're applying for anything to do with law enforcement or child services, it will almost certainly show up somewhere in their extensive background checks.
2. A lot depends on the individual screening the application. If they get 100 applications for the same job, I'd say they're likely to look for ways to filter some applicants out.
3. I don't think that having connections helps until you get to the interview phase. The screening phase is generally done absolutely by the book. If you know someone in the same agency who the interviewer can trust, it may give you a leg up at that point, all else being equal.
4. That's a tough one. Like any job, it depends on your expectations, who you work with and who you work for. My experience in local government is that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. You WILL run into people who do little or no work at all. If you're unlucky, one or more of those people will be on your team and you'll have to do their work for them. Employee discipline is slim to non-existent and it's almost impossible to get fired. Some people see this as a benefit, while I just found it frustrating. Again, it depends on your expectations.

It's a completely different culture from the corporate world. The corporate world often seems like a contest in who can work the most. Government sometimes seems like a contest in who can work the least.

One last tip - make sure to read the application very, very carefully. Bureaucrats tend to be inflexible sticklers for The Rules. If you miss something or fill it out incorrectly, your app is likely to be round-filed.
posted by cnc at 11:57 AM on June 2, 2008

Adding - I would also advise you not to lie. You'll sign a lengthy "I'm telling the truth" disclosure on the app itself. Most apps give you an area to explain why you left each job. Use that space to explain the situation as best you can.
posted by cnc at 12:01 PM on June 2, 2008

seconding IS. lying on a the application is an excellent way to get yourself in a bad situation.

if there's a clearance involved as well.... forget it. if you lie on the application, you'll have to lie on the clearance paperwork, wont you? and then you wont even be able to get a Secret level clearance (of course, just lying on the job application is enough to preclude you from getting a clearance). and for a lot of jobs, your employment is predicated upon your ability to get and maintain a clearance; if you can't get one, you'll be let go.
posted by buka at 12:03 PM on June 2, 2008

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