Post Date: January 27th, 2012

Getting Promoted within the Federal Government

This morning I welcome a guest blogger who wishes to remain anonymous, and who has generously offered to share her experience working within the federal government to secure a promotion.

I had the opportunity to compete for a coveted international Public Relations position within my government organization.  The position only comes available once every three years and it happened that the stars were aligned as I was due for a change at the same time as the international job came available. 

Now, the normal approach is to submit your name for consideration and just wait while the internal HR mechanism grinds away. But I knew I had to stand out in order to be in competition. 

So I put together an approach that I would describe as having three phases:

Phase 1 – Plan

Phase 2 – Influence

Phase 3 – Close 

In phase one I took stock of my situation, I researched the position, I spoke with a career coach, and I came up with my mission – Get the job by positioning myself as the best candidate. I knew there would be strong competition so I had to make sure that I had a rock solid case to put forward to the key influencers and decision makers. 

In phase two I developed a value proposition (that reflected the needs of the organization) and I supported it with specific examples from my work history as well as my future plans.  Over the course of several months I spoke with those who would have the greatest influence on the final selection decision.  It was necessary for me to demonstrate not only how but why I was the best candidate for the job – no one was going to do it for me.  I made appointments to speak with key members of my organization and went in to those meetings prepared with my mission and value proposition memorized.  As a PR professional I also developed my key messaging – one or two statements that encapsulated my position and my “value-add”. 

For phase three I developed a professional biography and a one page sheet that summarized my value proposition as well as a matrix of key strength areas supported by concrete accomplishments and examples. I knew when the selection committee was to meet so I made sure that in the week leading up to that meeting I arranged final interviews with the decision makers to once again reiterate my interest in the position and restate my qualifications.  Before I left their offices I made sure to “go for the close”, state my key messages and present my professional documents. 

In short, not only did I win the position but soon afterwards in a town hall meeting among my peers (several of whom had been in the running for the job) my approach to personal career management was publicly highlighted as “how it should be done”. 

My organization can be bureaucratic and unresponsive to personal needs, and has been accused of bending to pressures that reward negative behaviours.  My example was demonstrative of how personal intervention to support, not circumvent, our processes can assist in achieving personal career goals. 

Related Categories: Career Development, Federal Government