Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Training Government Communicators - How Do You Grow A Professional Workforce?

By: Larry Orluskie, April 3, 2013

I’d like to start a dialogue to discuss agency best practices on training, career progression, and identifying the things that constitute a communications professional.

How do individuals get into government communications?

My communications background comes from 24 years of active duty military service with communications experience, training, and education. I have another 12 years of civil service communication work on top of my military career. The military grows their specialists and leaders and has a lot of time and money invested in the process. On the flip side: civil service. What I’ve generally seen is that civil service hires the expertise they need. Often, it’s up to the employee to get the training they can get and job shop for the next promotion.
The author as a GI in Bosnia, being interviewed by a reporter with two cameras.
If I were on the outside looking in, I say there isn’t a standard communication specialist skill set in the federal government. I’ve been on USAJOBS and I’ve seen communication jobs listed in every sort of job series with all sorts of position descriptions – not just varying duties.

So, here are my questions about building a professional workforce of government communicators:

  • Does your organization have a career path for entry level communications professionals?
    If so, how does it work?
  • Does your organization have a leadership development program for communications professionals?
    If so, how does it work?
  • Do you have in-house training and education programs for your communications professionals?
  • Do you have identified core competencies and basic skill sets/capabilities for communication professionals?
  • Do you have a standardized set of position descriptions and rules on when you can post a position outside of the communication job series?


  1. Larry, that is some moustache--wowza!

    At my agency, we certainly have in-house training and education programs for communicators, but I'm not as confident that there's a career path for those coming in at entry level. And certainly there is no leadership development program only for communications professionals. If others have this, could they share materials or links? I'd be interested to learn more.

  2. No. No training or career path. It's actually becoming a little demoralizing.


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