Face Off: Public vs. Private Sector

Written by: Rebecca Stewart; Edited by: Courtney Saunders & Shanice Atkins-B.

With every new chapter of life, comes a new learning curve. While adjusting to university and college can be somewhat overwhelming, adjusting to life after post secondary can be just as intimidating.

When it comes down to it, most communications post-graduates are going to have to make the choice: do I want to work in the private or public sector?

Here is a breakdown of the four main differences and issues one might look at when deciding between working in the public or private sector of communications.

1.Budget and Clients

Public Sector: In the public sector, money isn’t as big of an issue as in the private sector. Public sector companies typically have a bigger budget to work with. In the public sector most of the work performed is not directly related to a specific client, therefore the revenue that the company earns is not directly correlated to how much work is done for a client. The only person that has to justify the choices made by employees is their manager.

Private Sector: In the private sector the client is the number one priority and it’s important to make sure that the work produced is always done with the client in mind.

2.Atmospheres and Work Satisfaction

Public Sector: Typically, work done within the communications public sector is not as fulfilling as the work done in the private sector. Some people prefer to see and feel the direct impact their work is making in the organization, which is simply not as attainable through the public sector.

Private Sector: Within the private sector, the atmosphere is generally more fulfilling. It is easier for employees to see the direct impact that their work has within the organization, while also receiving the deserved acknowledgement for the work that they have done.

3.Job Security

Public Sector: Employees in the public sector will be more financially stable than those in the private sector. With guaranteed benefits and a per-determined salary, there is a constant and steady flow of income. Due to the government’s dismissal process, at a certain point, letting an employee go from his or her job becomes extremely difficult, therefore as an employee in the public sector, there is essentially guaranteed job security.

Private Sector: In the private sector, dismissal from a company could be the result of a mistake on the employee’s part, or because of an organizational budget cut. This means that each employee’s job is always at risk.

4.Work Schedule

Public Sector: In the government, workers have the potential to work constant overtime as communication crises are more likely to occur. Since the public sector functions in a very hierarchical manner, the process to get something approved can take twice as long and requires a lot more effort. It may be harder in these jobs to find a healthy, flexible work life balance.

Private Sector: Although working over-time is necessary on occasion, the private sector is slightly less demanding and more flexible than a job in the government.

So which sector comes out on top? If working somewhere where a flexible work schedule is important or where seeing the results of your work is necessary in order to feel fulfilled and rewarded, then the private sector path is for you. Keep in mind that in return, you’ll be giving up some job security and a workplace with more room to make mistakes, without the fear of losing your job in the process.

Remember that these points are only guidelines; a starting place. To seek more information about what direction to take with your Communications education, there are number of resources such as on-campus career centers, associations such as Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) and International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) as well as numerous networking opportunities on campus associated with different clubs and associations to reach out to professionals in the industry.