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Moving between private and public sector - any advice?

(19 Posts)
CatWranglersAnonymous Tue 11-Jul-17 01:05:05

Hi everyone.

I've heard that it can be more difficult when changing jobs if you go from the public to the private sector. Apparently, it's more straightforward to move from the private sector to the public sector.

I'm considering my next career move, and the public/private sector thing is something that I hadn't really considered that much.

Could I ask about your own experiences of this please?

Thanks smile

araiwa Tue 11-Jul-17 06:06:43

I noticed no difference at all

DrDreReturns Tue 11-Jul-17 06:18:02

I went from public to private six years ago. The biggest difference to me was less bureaucracy - there aren't loads of forms to fill out like there were in the public sector. In the public sector I remember spending a day getting permission to buy a new computer (liaising with procurement etc)! That would take about half an hour now. Decisions get made much more quickly in my private sector job. In the public sector things were done by consensus - endless meetings until something was agreed on. Now the person in charge says 'this is happening' and that's it! You can still debate the right and wrongs of it, but in general things happen at a quicker pace.
The flip side is less annual leave, a longer working day and the pension is no where near as good as it was in my public sector job. The pay is substantially better though.

DrDreReturns Tue 11-Jul-17 06:24:48

Oh yeah I forgot to mention the public sector appraisal system. Took ages - a massive form to fill out followed by a meeting with your manager. People spent days preparing for it when they could have been productive. Now it's just a meeting with my manager.

Groupie123 Tue 11-Jul-17 06:37:58

Whenever I have hired people from the public sector I regretted it. In my industry you need to often sort your own learning and development out, you have to work at pace, and you have to demonstrate you add value from day one. That's difficult for many career public sector workers to do & they usually end up quitting. However former transport for london employees tend to be great.

t3rr3gl35 Tue 11-Jul-17 06:53:44

I moved to the public sector after a lifetime of private sector. I moved because I genuinely believe that I can make a difference, and I want to repay some of the excellent treatment I've had in a practical way.

The biggest shock for me was the level of laziness tolerated (office staff), followed by bullying and simply bad behaviour. I agree with the pp regarding the bureaucracy - there is more red tape than you could possibly imagine for the simplest of requests.

I manage a smallish team and I'm prevented from managing effectively by my own manager's inability to deal with established poor behaviour. I have to take into consideration X's lack of necessary skills that I cannot seek to improve because it would place too much pressure on her to ask her to attend a basic excel course. i cannot teach her in the office because she apparently doesn't trust my motives as I'm still relatively new. I can't tackle her about her poor quality of work because she doesn't have the skill. Rinse and repeat.

i cannot deal with Y's disruptive behaviour because she is somehow coping admirably with all that is going on in her life and I must be seen to be supportive. This involves having to turn a blind eye to her spending most of the day on internet dating sites, looking at dresses on her computer and showing other team members the latest screen shots/rude pics sent to her by the newest man. I also have to support her frequent absences whenever she has been dumped by the latest prince charming who was different to the last one and was meant to whisk her off on a white charger. Yadda, yadda.

We all pussyfoot around W because she is prone to outbursts of temper which put a damper on the atmosphere....and so it goes on.

It gets me down occasionally as I see a massive waste of money that could be going into patient care, but I have a sense of humour that rarely fails and I'm in it for the long game and definitely not for the money. I'd advise you to consider your motives for wanting to join the public sector very carefully and be prepared to deal with toddler behaviour all day, every day.

woollyminded Tue 11-Jul-17 07:01:14

I went from private to public. Reasonable high up but not a director. I enjoy the more predictable/regular hours, my colleagues are lovely, the work feels important to me. Things that I have noticed to be more difficult are making and enforcing decisions, I get paid less and stuff all hope of a promotion (if I wanted it).

Overall I'm much happier in public, I don't feel at the whim of narcissistic bosses and have a more stable home life, but accept this is not necessarily everyone's experience.

MouseholeCat Tue 11-Jul-17 07:33:59

I went public to private, it was no different in terms of working really. Fewer forms I guess, but not substantially!

Most notable is the benefits package- I get less annual leave (25 days as opposed to 30, although 30 isn't standard in the public sector either) and we don't shut over Christmas. Equally though, we have subsidised fitness classes, gym membership, and Bupa care.

dollydaydream114 Tue 11-Jul-17 07:47:32

I've worked in both. I personally prefer the public sector but it really depends on the specific organisation or office.

Most of the public sector places I've worked at don't match the negative descriptions above at all, while one of my private sector offices was an absolute shambles full of lazy bullies, an alcoholic pissed at work everyday and daily sexual harassment. But I know there are brilliant private sector workplaces too.

Some companies are great, some are shit. I honestly don't think it makes masses of difference what sector it's in.

Icanseethepigeon Tue 11-Jul-17 07:54:58

t3rr3gl35 - that to me just sounds like you have useless manager and they are to be found in all.places, not just public sector.

I work in an excellent large local authority and absolutely none of that behaviour would be tolerated. We're about to undergo our 4th cycle of redundancies in my department and there really is no waste, nothing to pare down. I work very long hours (far more than I get paid for), for little pay and fewer benefits and we are all in fear of losing our jobs. I am surrounded by hard working professional people and inspirational managers and consider myself fortunate.

ShotsFired Tue 11-Jul-17 08:05:46

I agree with the red tape - both in practice and in attitude that seems to pervade public sector. Here's a practical example when I wanted some extra storage space:

Tried to rent a garage. Emailed council. Heard nothing. Chased it up, got some message about 'Sheila' being off so it'd just have to wait. Eventually Sheila gets back (week or two later) and sends me a photocopy of a letter. I have to respond to letter to re-confirm areas I have already said that I am looking for a garage in. Hear nothing. Eventually get another photocopied letter offering a unit nearby. Go and check it out. Can see daylight through the remains of the roof and the door is bent half open. Politely turn it down and ask to remain on list for other garages. Also enquire why letters are all photocopied and mailed 1st class. Sheila explains that she prints one off, copies it, files the original and posts me the copy. Ask why shes doesn't just email to save paper, time, postage etc. Snotty reply that "not everyone has internet!", as if the very idea was completely outrageous. Doesn't respond when I suggest email could be used for 95% of requests made online (like mine) and fall back on letter for the few who don't. Also never replies with any further garages, so I assume I am on her shit list now. Council loses regular revenue source.

Instead looked at storage units. Go to a storage place website, filled in a form, paid, turned up at location within the hour and started putting stuff in a nice clean, is heated, lit, secured unit.

Canyoudomegreaterharm Tue 11-Jul-17 08:08:18

It's not the difference in work you need to be concerned about, as a PP have said about public sector workers being lazy etc I found there was a lot of prejudice like that from recruitment agencies or hiring firms.

One recruitment consultant actually said to me, "Wow you're in a suit, I thought as you worked in a council you would wear a cardigan!" hmm

The first private company I got into interviewed me as their candidate dropped out and they were desperate, they had initially said to their agent they categorically would not see public sector employees.

If you can get in front of an interviewer then that's most of the battle.

I doubled my salary within 2 years of leaving, tripled within 5 years. I would never go back.

Useless managers are everywhere, in private companies I found that if a person is performing the role making sales or doing a great technical job then they won't get sacked as they bring the money in so you get bad people everywhere.

PettsWoodParadise Tue 11-Jul-17 08:14:25

As Groupie says I too have recruited from both sectors, working in the private sector. I would now think twice about recruiting from the public sector or would make triply sure they had realistic expectations. The main challenges were around absence and what was expected, for example they expected to have days off for children's appointments (school assemblies, accompanying a school trip, doctor in the middle of the day) without using up leave, yes for their own doctors appointments and yes for if they needed to use their parental leave rights but not every little event. Also expectations about being able to work from home with children and no childcare support so were aghast when had a conference call and despite assuring us they had childcare they clearly hadn't and no work was being done.

Working hours was also a shock, we worked until the end of the day every Friday and one person really missed their flexi arrangement they used to have in the public sector which meant they did a nine day fortnight. It was also a challenge getting across the concept of even if it is 5.30 you don't just down tools if in the middle of some urgent work, you finish it within reason and the very least update the person where you are with it and provide an interim report / update and maybe you login from home once children are in bed and get the work done. I know changing sector can be done as I've seen successes but I think the major challenge isn't whether you can do the job, it is getting over the recruiter's previous experiences of recruiting from that sector and able to reassure them that you will fit in and for the recruiting company to make sure expectations are effectively managed and you have the right manager to help with the transition.

toolonglurking Tue 11-Jul-17 08:14:59

I went from 10+ years in the private sector to public after moving to a new area. I couldn't believe the attitude of the employees in the public sector job, I'd never heard the phrase 'that's not in my job description' being used in an actual sentence until then!
Endless meetings, no decisions, poor management....
I was once told that the public sector employs the unemployable, when I started my public sector job I had to agree with that sentiment.

AgentProvocateur Tue 11-Jul-17 08:25:39

I've recruited from both, but wouldnt choose ex public sector again due to everything PettsWoodParadise has detailed in the post above. That was my experience exactly (and why I left the public sector too!)

BabyHamster Tue 11-Jul-17 08:27:02

I think the prejudice against public sector workers is one of the toughest things to get past (I think from your OP you'd be moving public to private?)

Some people really do look down on public sector workers, as evidenced by this thread. I moved from a very challenging job in the public sector to a less challenging job in the private sector on more money. When hearing where I'd been working before, one of my colleagues said "oh dear, you must be finding this tough then? In the public sector you all finish at 3 every day don't you? Are you tired?" Ummmm, no.

Having said that...I've worked in a few different places and IME, on average there are lower expectations of people in the public sector in terms of output, attendance etc. But then, hands down, the laziest, bitchiest office I ever worked in was private sector. It was ridiculous, nobody did anything at all!

LeSquigh Tue 11-Jul-17 08:37:53

I echo what others have said. I have worked in the public sector for the last ten years after previously working in the private. People in the public sector have no idea how lucky they are with regards to their decent pensions (which they all moan about) annual leave allowance, and how little work a lot of them have to do. There is also no sense of urgency by a lot working in the public sector, which drives me insane. Everything takes forever. I believe I will always remain in the public sector (I'm non healthcare) because of the work I do (isn't available in the private) and I love my job for the massive satisfaction it can give but there are a LOT of hurdles. My biggest personal gripe is the red tape and how long everything takes to get done. I also believe there is a huge amount of people doing the job of a lot less. If the same work was being done in the private sector the work force would be less than half what it is.

EBearhug Tue 11-Jul-17 09:23:19

I don't get why people go on about public and private sector as if there's just two types. There's far more diversity than that. Public sector includes councils, police, nursing, teaching, government, MI5 and loads more. They don't all have the same working conditions. Private sector covers everything from family firms with one or two employees to global corporates. There's probably more comparison to be made between someone working in the NHS and someone in a large multinational than with someone who works in a small independent craft shop or something, but the latter two are both private. I think there's more comparison to be made between large organisations, whether public or private.

IME, you get lazy people in all areas. You get shit managers in all areas. There are also dedicated, great people in both.

You can very definitely get excessive amounts of bureaucracy in the private sector.

Pensions can be better in the public sector, but is a final salary pension so wonderful if it's based on a poor salary? When I was last in the public sector, they were changing the pensions, so anyone who joined after me wouldn't have got such a great pension anyway.

You can also find private sector employees who offer flexible time, and are reasonable about taking time off for school things and have good holiday allowances.

I've done exactly the same job (IT) in both public and private sector. I can get a substantially bigger salary in the private sector than I could in the public sector, and I've also got decent holiday allowance, flexible hours and so on. The lowest paid jobs in my field have also been private sector.

If you're going to compare, you need to know the details, because there are such huge variances in company cultures, pay and conditions - in large organisations, you can experience different cultures just moving between different departments, and in the end, that's probably the key thing which makes a job enjoyable or not, more than a salary or pension. (Though I wouldn't ignore those. Not having to budget down to the last penny makes it easier to enjoy other things.)

BabyHamster Tue 11-Jul-17 15:08:32

Good points EBearHug!

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