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The engineering profession competes in a free marketplace for talent. When the economy is depressed in the private sector, the public sector can be more competitive. Rather than trying to identify factors that might clue you as to whether a new hire applicant might stay or not, consider trying to sell the applicant on the benefits of a career in public service. What is the value of the complete compensation package (salary, insurance benefits, retirement benefits, encouraged use of vacation time, etc.), not just the salary. I spent the first sixteen years of my career in private consulting, thirteen years in municipal government and soon to be seventeen years in state government.
I often read the details for public works offferings and one attractive item I see is the time off allowed. Here in the private sector, we get the requisite holidays and a few weeks' vacation, but the public sector gives additional time, at least in the executive positions. That is more time to pursue outside activities, or spend with family.
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