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how to get a state job

PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2015 10:41 am
by May S.
After a regular PhD in Environmental Engineering my husband could not find and industry/consulting job, he was overqualified. So he went on to an unpaid post doc in a microbiology lab to learn Molecular Biology hoping to make himself more marketable and learn Biology. After a 5yr paid/unpaid postdoc he is now completing 2 publications and looking for jobs outside of academia. He keeps finding State and EPA postings that are only open for 1-2 weeks! Is this because they already know who they are going to hire (internally?) and are just required to post an ad? How do people get those jobs? He also finds all the other jobs require that you have already had experience with regulatory policies and compliance. How can someone get this experience with a PhD? Is there any hope?

Re: how to get a state job

PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:14 pm
by Rich Lemert
May S. wrote:After a regular PhD in Environmental Engineering my husband could not find and industry/consulting job, he was overqualified.


I doubt he was "over-qualified" if he was trying for a research position. My guess is he was looking at positions that don't require a PhD - such as 'environmental engineer', so then he would be considered "over-qualified."

He keeps finding State and EPA postings that are only open for 1-2 weeks! Is this because they already know who they are going to hire (internally?) and are just required to post an ad?


Government hiring is, in many ways, more formal and bureaucratic than hiring in the private sector. There are typically rules regarding where openings must be posted and for how long, as well as how candidates must be evaluated. I believe they have bit more leeway in how they carry out a search at the PhD level, but even here there are restrictions on what a hiring manager can and cannot do.

How do people get those jobs? He also finds all the other jobs require that you have already had experience with regulatory policies and compliance. How can someone get this experience with a PhD? Is there any hope?


When you get down to the gritty details, finding a government job is no different than finding one in the private sector. The best way is to get to know the hiring managers - and, more important, get them to know you. In a sense, you want to become the "internal" external candidate that they already have decided to hire when they post their vacancy. To do this, your husband needs to start networking - to talk to potential hiring managers to explain why he would be a good addition to their staff. It's called "networking", and there is plenty of information on this site about how to go about it.

Your description of your husband's situation suggests, however, that the first thing he needs to do is decide what it is he really wants to do! I get the strong impression that his main concern is "I need to find a job - any job." Hiring managers can sense this, and it doesn't impress them. To find out what different jobs entail, he needs to make "information interviews" (also discussed frequently on this site) a major part of his networking efforts. In other words, he needs to talk to people doing the work he thinks he'd like to do to find out what they really do and how they got their position.

Re: how to get a state job

PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:27 pm
by May S.
Thanks this is very helpful however a bit of clarification and more questions.

He does have a sense actually of what he'd REALLY like to do and in that area he has tried to start networking already but he never actually meets the people that do the hiring. He meets the employees that work at the DEM or the non-profit, etc etc. He goes to these meetings/talks they have about "the state of the bay" etc. He's tried talking with a few people he knows at the DEM and the EPA but they don't ever have suggestions other than sending him job posts.

So how do you find out who the hiring managers are? it seems that most of the time their are electronic portals for sending your application or in one case it was by mail, there is never any actual PERSON listed as a contact?