During a recesssion the public sector looks like an attractive safe harbour to many jobseekers. Are there any downsides to working in the public sector? I've worked in both public and private sector organisations and here are some of my observations.
Public sector jobs tend to be more secure especially if you can secure a full time position. Governments need to ask the general public for their votes to stay in power and this is not very compatible with making people redundant. This can sometimes also have the effect of reducing the meritocracy effect in public sector organisations.
Bureaucracy was originally designed to maximise productivity by giving organisations structure and giving individuals well defined roles. Today bureaucracy is synonymous with inefficiency. Unfortunately many public sector departments have this in spades. This can make them very difficult places to work if you’re an enthusiastic self-starter.
I found the environment a stifling one in which many managers are more interested in defending their own turf than in getting anything useful done. These issues can be problem in the private sector as well of course especially in large companies.
It typically takes longer to climb the ladder in the public sector also with initiative and risk taking not necessarily being rewarded as much as they would in a small private business. In many cases simply the most senior individual or the one who has been working in the organisation the longest gets the promotion.
So despite the security, the benefits package and the well defined role there are still some reasons to take your chances in the private sector..
I would love to hear from anyone who had a very positive experience working in the public sector.