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  • time off and resume

    About a year ago I left the job I was at to spend some time traveling around, pursuing recreational interests and doing some things I might not have another shot at until retirement. If things had gone my way I would have started pursuing a federal 1811 gig right then and had my career sorted out by now, but due to some medical issues, I was only able to start the process several months ago. So here I am, looking to get back into my old career field for a while (possibly a long while), while I wait for the federal process to run its course and then look at state/local options (I'm interested in working cyber crime, and being an SA with some of the fed agencies seems the best way to get there).

    Not only was I lucky to be able to take time off the way I did, I'm also lucky to have a good background in a career field that's pretty tolerant of such things, and haven't had any trouble finding job offers. However, I have gotten grief from a few of the larger companies, especially those headquartered in more conservative, old-school parts of the country. One job in particular, the manager told me that the only reason I was being considered was that he rescued my resume from HR's discard pile.

    Their concerns seem centered on two things. First, there's concern that I'm flat out lying: either I've spent the whole time looking unsuccessfully for a job, or I had one that ended poorly and simply left it off my resume. Second, there seems to be some concern about initiative and motivation, that someone who's been out of work for a year is automatically going to be a lazy problem employee.

    Without trying to insult anyone, my impression is that government in general - and law enforcement in particular - has its fair share of old-school types who might react the same way as some of these large corporations. I've included an explanation on my resume, but my game plan was always to rely on my background (engineering degree from a top-5 tech school with several years' experience in a demanding industry) to speak to the fact that I'm not a screwup. Now I'm not so sure.

    Those of you that are in the field, what would you be looking for on a resume / job app to seal the deal from someone in my position? What concerns would you have, and how can I position my situation to answer them? Would having a month or two in a new job make a difference? It's an open ended question, but I appreciate any advice you can give.

  • #2
    Originally posted by alpine View Post
    About a year ago I left the job I was at to spend some time traveling around, pursuing recreational interests and doing some things I might not have another shot at until retirement. If things had gone my way I would have started pursuing a federal 1811 gig right then and had my career sorted out by now, but due to some medical issues, I was only able to start the process several months ago. So here I am, looking to get back into my old career field for a while (possibly a long while), while I wait for the federal process to run its course and then look at state/local options (I'm interested in working cyber crime, and being an SA with some of the fed agencies seems the best way to get there).

    Not only was I lucky to be able to take time off the way I did, I'm also lucky to have a good background in a career field that's pretty tolerant of such things, and haven't had any trouble finding job offers. However, I have gotten grief from a few of the larger companies, especially those headquartered in more conservative, old-school parts of the country. One job in particular, the manager told me that the only reason I was being considered was that he rescued my resume from HR's discard pile.

    Their concerns seem centered on two things. First, there's concern that I'm flat out lying: either I've spent the whole time looking unsuccessfully for a job, or I had one that ended poorly and simply left it off my resume. Second, there seems to be some concern about initiative and motivation, that someone who's been out of work for a year is automatically going to be a lazy problem employee.

    Without trying to insult anyone, my impression is that government in general - and law enforcement in particular - has its fair share of old-school types who might react the same way as some of these large corporations. I've included an explanation on my resume, but my game plan was always to rely on my background (engineering degree from a top-5 tech school with several years' experience in a demanding industry) to speak to the fact that I'm not a screwup. Now I'm not so sure.

    Those of you that are in the field, what would you be looking for on a resume / job app to seal the deal from someone in my position? What concerns would you have, and how can I position my situation to answer them? Would having a month or two in a new job make a difference? It's an open ended question, but I appreciate any advice you can give.
    Well, my personal take is, as long as you were able to discharge any debts you may have had, take care of your responsibilities, etc, why not? Quite a few academic venues consider what you did as a sabatical. Keep in mind that when you enter law enforcement, you're entering a pretty structured environment. That pretty much accounts for the "old school" attitudes you referenced. I'm not going to insult your intelligence by suggesting those attitudes don't exist, or won't be a factor in a future application. My sense is, that provided you test well, put everything on the table, and are willing to accept the restrictions which come with a LE career, you'll have a shot. I'm only offering a personal perspective here, but I don't see your taking some time off as a major obstacle to a LE career. Apply and shoot your best shot.

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    • #3
      The hiring practices you seein private business do not carry the same weight or effect in government.

      Generally speaking, in private business there are not a lot of rules. What you bring to the table such as education, training and experience obviously count. However, they are also free to base their decision on other factors such as whether they like your suit, your haircut, whether you speak a second language, whether you married the boss's daughter, of whether they just got back from a great lunch.

      Government employment is a lot different. Generally you are rated (scored) based on the number of correct answers you give to questions on a civil service test. For the Feds, its often based on how you articulate your education, training and experience in your KSA. From there the background does not score you, Instead, it merely verifies that you possess the minimum qualifications for the job and determines whether there is anything in your personal history that meets the criteria for disqualification. This means subjective opinions (he's not motivated, he may have been fired from a job he omitted) carry no weight. They may inspire your background investigator to dig a little harder and if you omitted a job you were fired from, trust me, your BI will find it and DQ you for leaving it out. But in any case, with government, you are dealing with a more clear cut and objective set of rules and not the whim of some HR person. And because there is an appeals process, the likelihood of someone arbitrarily screwing with you is slim, because if you win an appeal it will make them, the supervisor that approved their actions and that person's manager all look bad.

      As PhilipCal said - give it your best shot.
      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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      • #4
        Structured. That's probably the word I was looking for.

        I'm not concerned about having problems later on in the process, once they get to know me a bit. I doubt it will hurt me once a department likes me for other reasons. Once I've gone through the written, physical fitness test, interview, etc., if they have a problem with it, then I probably don't want to work for them anyway. Same thing with the private sector.

        The problem I'm facing with some private sector companies is getting through the first round of HR "gatekeepers" to even start the process. It sounds from your responses, though, that such a concept doesn't really exist in government, and so I don't have to worry about how to structure my resume to appeal to them, just make sure it speaks to the qualifications they're looking for.

        Thanks!

        Comment


        • #5
          In most state and local government agencies the first round is merely submitting the application. If it shows that you possess the minimum stated qualifications for the job then you automatically go to the next round, which is usually the written exam. Give enough correct answers the questions and you go on to the oral. Give enough correct answers so the questions there and score high enough to be reachable and you go on to the background, etc.

          With the Feds, the application and KSA are usually rolled into one so if you pass that and score high enough, you go onto the background.

          In the private sector you can hire or decline to hire for any reason or for no reason, just not for an illegal reason (race, gender.religion, etc.), so they can dump you at any stage on a whim. Not so in government.
          Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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