Is Government Work a Career-Booster?

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They used to be well down the totem pole. But today they rule the roost as never before. Might your career benefit from rubbing shoulders with them for a year or three?

We're talking about regulators, of course. Overseers, policy panels, public officials, and some no doubt less kind labels we private-sector types have pinned on them.

Not long ago, working in government, even briefly, was seen as anything but a resume-booster. Could that attitude be changing, now that taxpayers have become shareholders and bankers have become (in the public's mind) radioactive?

In the U.S., the SEC's top inspector recently admonished financial firms not to look to the compliance area for cost-cutting opportunities. Throughout much of the world, both new bodies of regulation and new regulatory bodies are likely to come into being to govern the unprecedented public-sector investments needed to prop up financial institutions. That's already fueling a demand for more human bodies in places like the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Financial Stability, the new office that runs the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

The New York Society of Security Analysts is even organizing a career fair centered on jobs in government. That would have been unimaginable 10 years ago, five years ago or even one year ago.

So, government jobs not only are more secure than jobs at banks - that's always been true - but for the first time in awhile, look to become more plentiful as well. More important, for the next few years at least, the work that regulators do looks to mesh closely into the work that bankers do.

Does that mean that a banker who takes up a public-sector role overseeing financial activities for a year or so, might be positioned to jump back into a financial institution at a higher level when business picks up again?

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