Job Change-Public to Private Sector

by Alan A. Malinchak, CEO, Eclat Transitions

This article continues my reflections on the changes you will need to consider as you journey beyond your current career in public service to your next successful career in private industry. The first article discussed preparing for the transition. Here I will discuss finding a job and completing the transition.


It’s important to maintain a network of your trusted friends within your government agency that have entered private industry, as well as to expand your networking beyond those trusted friends.  Join professional associations, establish a LinkedIn account, attend professional networking functions/events, volunteer at non-profit associations and establish relationships with recruiters. Simply make as many connections in as many industry spaces as you can. Making connections, professionally and socially, is a key discriminator in people knowing you are looking to transition and having something to offer. You understand and know the benefits of building rapport – start now to strengthen your networking skills.

Job Boards, Job Fairs and Recruiters

Identify and attend job fairs, especially those that are searching for job candidates with security clearances. Learn from the hiring managers present what capabilities/credentials they are looking for.  Review job boards, and learn how to use job board aggregators and the techniques to get job leads emailed to you directly. Establish relationships with recruiters who can contact you when opportunities arise.


Many of you may have not yet written a corporate resume and some of you may have been like me and initially tried to create a complete summary of my public career accomplishments that spanned 20 pages. Unfortunately, the people that read resumes typically get hundreds of them and on average take about seven seconds to scan and review for key words aligned to the positional role to which you are applying. Determine if you have the required skills for those open positions. Writing a resume the right way and including the right information will be critically important. And write your resume to be about two pages max!


Congratulations! If you are going on an interview it means you are generally qualified for the job! The interview process is how companies determine which candidate is the MOST qualified for the job. They are drilling down on the depth and breadth of your experience as compared to other candidates as well as determining your personality and cultural fit within their team and the company. This is a weeding out process and there are tricks to stay on the shortlist and make it to the finish line. There are typically three or more interviews before a decision and there are multiple interviewers. Some companies do personality or skills assessments as well to ensure there is an organizational and cultural fit.


In your government/public career, your salary, vacation and benefits are predetermined. Not negotiable. However, in industry, how well you negotiate your first compensation package can be a hallmark on how you are compensated going forward. In industry there can be many variables to negotiate including title, basic salary, bonus structure, vacation, stock options – the list goes on. Employers expect to negotiate salary and other benefits. Not everything is open to negotiation. It depends on the company, their compensation policies and the level of the role you are being considered for. The reality is that a company’s success is dependent on their controlling costs so they typically won’t offer a penny more than they think they have. The first offer will typically be fair but not the highest they can go. The candidate must make a case to negotiate a better offer. Always remember the value of a security clearance and, should an employer refer to your retirement salary, never allow the monies you earned for your public service to be a pawn in the employer’s counter-negotiations.

A Day In The Life

Your new career is going to be different. Different culture, mission, job responsibilities, cast of characters including boss(es) and now CLIENTS, commute, processes, etc. The leadership, teamwork and work ethic traits that you have fine-tuned in your public service career are desired, valuable and critical to private industry, especially how they affect performance within a company. Companies value good employees, especially those that contribute to either top line growth or bottom line savings.

Ask or Look for Assistance

There are others who have gone before you, some successful, some not. Seek out both and learn from their mistakes and successes. Yes, there are companies that can provide direction and assistance, but the most important step is recognizing you need to prepare and invest the time, energy and enthusiasm into your transitional career as you did when you transitioned into your public service career.


Change is hard. You need to be resilient in your efforts to transition to your next career. Expand your capabilities and your network, and remember, “It’s Only the Beginning…” of your next chapter. For more information, visit Good Luck and God Bless.

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