Hello career, I have a conundrum…


As most of you are aware I now work for the government.

I really had no experience in the bureaucratic environment that is government, and the entire thing came as somewhat a surprise. All my “hard” skills pretty much went out the window (with the exception of the creation of reports) as the red tape that you have to jump through in government is light years away from the “get-it-done-now” mentality of the private sector. Legislation, regulations, procedures and processes all have to be adhered to with strict rigidity. I’ve pretty much had to learn all those skills from scratch. And I’m still learning, while I can do my current role now with a degree of autonomy and independence, there are still issues when I look to someone more senior than me just for that extra peace of mind.

However, my “soft” skills still come into play in this role (but they pretty much do, in every role that requires at least a modicum of client interaction) and I, after doing a workshop (the government absolutely adores workshops) can honestly say I could probably talk circles around a lot of other people who are at my level, maybe even the level just above.

I’m not trying to be boastful or anything (but seriously I’m awesome *grin* hahaha, kidding, kidding) but coming from the private sector environment has given me that exposure and confidence to be able to be articulate and not-at-all-be-flustered no matter who is on the other side of the table, whether they be a high-muckety-muck or my manager or an interview panel. While most of my other colleagues have been bogged down with the bureaucracy of government that they just haven’t had to deal with the level of face-to-face interactions that I have. Couple that with the fact I’m naturally friendly and fairly well presentable, I do very well in a face-to-face environment.

And here’s the crux of the matter.

They’re advertising for a position which will be a huge step up for me.

Now the recruitment process for this role is a two stage process. Firstly they will assess your suitability for the role from your responses to criteria they have outlined in the job advertisement along with the details in your resume. After the interview panel have combed through those responses for who they deem suitable, comes the interview process.

I know that if I pass that first stage and get through to the interviews, I will have a very good chance of winning this role. There’s only maybe 1-2 people, at my current level, who have the same type of personality and would be able to perform as well during an interview.

I’ve actually sat ON an interview panel (as in I was in the panel interviewing people for a role) quite recently. So I know how much weighting the interview panel members actually give towards the interview. A lot. You can have most brilliant responses and resume, but if you can’t back it up in person, you’re in trouble.

Now couple that with the knowledge that my contract is up for review at the end of September this year, and while I know I’m doing a good enough job that under normal circumstances this would be renewed with no problems, there has been a spate of budget cuts within government which makes me a little uneasy about depending on my contract being renewed. If those budget cuts roll through my directorate, I could be jobless in 5 months! The new role, will have a 2 year contract term which means I won’t have to worry about renewal until 2014…

My mentor is adamant that I should apply.

My manager has (tentatively, in my opinion) given me the green light to go ahead and apply.

But personally, I’m not sure.

For a couple of reasons…

1) I am relatively new to the organisation, only 6 months in. And while I know I can do the job, there will be a steep learning curve in the first couple of months before I could be up-to-speed.

2) I have a work colleagues who have the experience and the knowledge, but lack my interpersonal skills. I know they will also be applying for the role.

If this role had come in another 6 months, even 3 months in the future, I wouldn’t hesitate in applying.

But is it fair on my work colleagues that have been in similar positions as mine for years and years, that some whipper-snapper who, has by dint of life experience, has had his shame-gene removed and is therefore able to talk with absolute confidence in any situation, get a role when they are by far the more experienced and knowledgeable candidate?

Then I think, these people are all at least my age (if not considerably older) should I really play nice, when they’ve had the same amount of time to develop the skills I have? They have the advantage of being more experienced in the subject matter, is it wrong for me to play my card of being more experienced when it comes to talking to people?

Then I think, do I really want this role? I’m quite happy at my current level in my team. I have enough responsibility to keep me amused throughout the day, but I have more senior people to fall back on. Am I just applying because of the money? (which is considerably a lot more than what I am currently getting. In essence it would be 25% pay increase. I got roughly that amount because of 7 months backpay, and I managed to pay off a huge chunk of debt AND buy an electric guitar. Imagine what I could do if I got that amount every fortnight! Whoa.)

Then I think, I really should just apply anyway. I mean what’s the chance that I’ll even make it through to the second stage?

Then I think, okay dumbass, what happens if you do make it to the second stage?

Then I think, if the stars do align, and the planets all come into conjunction and I actually get this role. I do have an out since I can withdraw from the process.

Then I think, won’t that reflect badly on me if I withdraw from a role??? What can I say? That I don’t think the interview panel made the right decision?? That just makes it seem like I know better than they do. What happens the next time I apply for a role??

Then, I think if this role had come in another 6 months, even 3 months in the future, I wouldn’t hesitate in applying.

And on, and on, and on and on…

Help! I'm stuck and I can't get off!

I still have about a month to make up my mind. The position won’t be advertised until next week, and there’s usually, at the very least, a 3 week period where they will accept applications.

So, should I step aside and let those who have had years and years more experience have a free shot without my interference?

Or should I just throw my hat in the ring along with everyone else and let the chips fall where they may (even when I’m not 100% positive that I even want the job)?

The blue pill or the red pill?

Do you have it in green?

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16 responses to “Hello career, I have a conundrum…

  1. In Thailand, I learned the phrase, “Why not?”. I could also really get into my head a lot and my thoughts just freeze me from doing anything. In the end, we don’t know what’ll happen in the future anyway so why not give it a try? What one imagines doesn’t usually happen anyway. At least in my case 🙂

  2. Um HELLO job security! And more money! Personally, I think you’d be a dumbass if you didn’t apply for the role. You seem very confident, but just do your best and let THEM decide who’s best suited to the role, you or someone who’s been there longer. You never know, they might choose the person who’s been there longer based solely on that fact, but you won’t know unless you try.

    Don’t let the opportunity pass just to “be fair” to those other people. They would not do the same for you. You have to do what’s best for you. As for the learning curve, there’s nothing wrong with that. Think of it as an opportunity to learn more and become more valuable – both things that will help you in your current job and at your next one, if or when that happens.

  3. Stop being a pussy and apply.

  4. I second Mutant Supermodel.

    Seriously, you’re in government, not a union. Who cares if your colleagues have been there longer? If they’re better for the job they’ll get it. If they’re not, you’ll get it. And if they’re not better but get it anyway because you couldn’t put on your big boy pants long enough to apply, then you didn’t deserve that 25% raise. Do it.

  5. life is short, go for it.

  6. musicaffection

    There is nothing fair or nice in this world. You need to worry about you and your career. Your co-workers will not take care of you at the end of the day. If you have a chance to gain new skills, earn more money, snatch the opportunity and never be sorry about it!

    I am really digging your blog sir!

  7. Go for it!!

  8. Think everyone said it already, Mutant Supermodel probably said it best.

    Don’t let opportunities pass you by.

    I really need to read that post entitled 3% raise, I’m a bit lost by Vera and guitar and now this back pay thing. Think I’ve already figured it out now though, I’m guessing Vera is the guitar. I’ll see soon enough.

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