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Public v private

April 29, 2020 by Susan Surgener

Public v private

One of the biggest things employers are trying to work out in an interview is the answer to a simple question: “Why us? Why do you want to work with us?”  So, deciding if you have a preference for the private sector or the public sector might be one of the things you’ll have to think about when you’re applying for roles. Why would you choose one over the other?

In GradAustralia’s Top 100 Graduate Employers 2020, graduates selected 15 government or public sector agencies. You might think that’s not a very high number, but compare that to the private sector with its numerous organisations versus only so many government agencies offering programs in Australia! Plus, government graduate programs are still going to offer similar training opportunities and perks as private companies – and they employ in high numbers.

So why would you have the Department of Finance at the top of your list over the Big 4 – or vice versa?

There are a few key differences between the sectors:

  1. Security – Government positions are often thought of as more steady, stable and secure. They’re well protected by numerous awards and agreements.
  1. Flexibility - You are more likely to have fixed hours of working in the public sector than the private – and not have to put in an additional trillion hours a week to shine!
  1. Scope for advancement – The private sector may offer more opportunity to get ahead quickly and be less hierarchical in structure. Government positions tend to work on increments – each year as you progress you earn a little more and work more slowly towards moving up a level. The private sector may afford more opportunity to be enterprising and jump ranks.
  1. Higher salary scales – Big organisations may have more money to spend on salaries to attract grads than government departments.
  1. Living in Canberra – Many government grad programs are Canberra based, so you may have to relocate. But remember, smaller cities can mean closer knit communities. While you may have to relocate for a role with CommBank or Unilever, for example, you’d probably be in bustling Sydney or Melbourne! You also – quite possibly – have more chances to move around if you’re connected to the private sector.

One final key difference – most of the private sector graduate programs for 2021 are now closed but some of the public sector departments are still open for applications!

Most organisations, whether they’re public or private, will be conducting video interviews as part of their recruitment process. If you want to practise your interview techniques and receive some honest feedback, head to our online platform!

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