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AIBU - Civil Servants

(28 Posts)
2020iscancelled Thu 04-Jun-20 13:14:31

Blatant traffic post...

I recently left a comfortable private industry role, think IT / Finance / Quality. I want a change, it’s been 15 years of the same objectives (profit generation) and I just need a new challenge.

I have first class MSc, BA Hons, ILM, few industry quals and 15 years experience in global roles. I am middle management level currently and would hope next step would be similar although realistically looking to side step rather than a “promotion”.

So my AIBU - is it totally unrealistic to apply for civil service roles? I’ve had a few friends tell me they are incrediblely difficult to secure as an external applicant and I’d be better to focus on private sector again. But I left private sector for a reason!!!!

I’ve seen a few roles across HMRC, HSE, Dept of Education etc which sound perfect for my skill set and experience. We’re not talking a total role change- just industry. I don’t expect to walk into something I’ve never done before over qualified internal applicants - I’m not totally deluded.

Or maybe I am. So, any past or present civil servants, what do you say? Are external hires rare? Am I wasting my time?

I can apply either way as it’s good experience completing applications and interviews but it would be good to have some insight from those in the know.

Anyone made this type of change in their mid-late career?

OP’s posts: |
CatToddlerUprising Thu 04-Jun-20 13:16:12

I don’t find it rare for externals to be employed. Just make sure you follow the strength based and competency based guides when doing the application

2020iscancelled Thu 04-Jun-20 13:16:57

Ok that’s a positive start!

OP’s posts: |
beautifulxdisasters Thu 04-Jun-20 13:20:25

Ime external hires are relatively rare but mostly because jobs tend to be advertised internally. If the jobs are open to external candidates I'd say go for it!

What sort of grade are the jobs you're looking at - I'm guessing around grade 7/6 it you're middle management?

SerenDippitty Thu 04-Jun-20 13:23:04

Lots of civil service depts are keen to employ externals these days. As long as you can evidence the key competencies, following STAR (situation, task, approach, result).

2020iscancelled Thu 04-Jun-20 13:24:02

Yes 6/7 is exactly what I’m looking at.

I suppose my concern is that the jobs aren’t actually available and only being advertised to tick boxes - which I’ve seen a lot in private sector.

Do they tend to do this or if there’s an external advert does it mean they actually will hire from it?

OP’s posts: |
CatToddlerUprising Thu 04-Jun-20 13:25:26

If it’s advertised as external then you stand a good chance. If they just wanted internal- they advertise to only civil servants

2020iscancelled Thu 04-Jun-20 13:27:06

That’s positive then, I’ve seen so many examples of false recruitment. People putting hours of work into applications when there is zero chance of success.

Boils my blood.

OP’s posts: |
SerenDippitty Thu 04-Jun-20 13:28:56

Jobs are usually advertised internally first if they think there is a strong enough field. If not they'll go straight to external. Internal candidates will also be eligible to apply for externally advertised posts.

PanicOnTheStreets85 Thu 04-Jun-20 13:30:23

I suppose my concern is that the jobs aren’t actually available and only being advertised to tick boxes - which I’ve seen a lot in private sector.

Do they tend to do this or if there’s an external advert does it mean they actually will hire from it?

Oh no if they are advertising someone will get hired, and everything will be assessed scrupulously.

The main difficulty IMO is that the application process with all the competency and strength-based stuff is very difficult for outsiders to get their heads around.

PolPotNoodle Thu 04-Jun-20 13:31:32

The department I worked in (section of MOJ) very rarely had external postings despite being externally advertised; if anyone came from outside of the section it was usually from another prong of the umbrella so to speak. It was frequently lower grades that had had external entries.

MBlaze Thu 04-Jun-20 13:32:10

In my dept (might be different for others) vacancies are advertised internally first. If the post has gone external, it's because they didn't find any internal candidates that wanted the job or they were unsuccessful at interview etc.

So, you're not wasting your time. Good luck!

AndAllOurYesterdays Thu 04-Jun-20 13:32:11

More and more externals being employed in my dept. I think the main hurdle you'll face is fitting your experience to fit the competencies can be tricky is you haven't any civil service examples.

chockaholic72 Thu 04-Jun-20 13:34:05

I'm an external hire - I've been in my job a year. We're not civil servants per se - I work for a government agency so we're on CS conditions (or better in some cases). We've also just filled three vacancies on our team - advertised internally and externally, had 200 applications, and all were filled by externals. So go for it!

witheringrowan Thu 04-Jun-20 13:37:28

I've been working in a private sector role for the last 9 years since graduating, also reaching a middle management role. I'm leaving next week to join the Cabinet Office, working on things that are very unrelated to the industry I'm currently in. I'm going in at Band A/Grade 7, which I would say is a slight step down in seniority from my current position, but will give me more opportunity for long term growth. I think it would have been hard to go in at a higher grade unless I was joining to do policy work in the department that us directly related to my current sector, but for this role there were no problems with the fact that it's quite a switch from what I've done previously. It's all about competencies & transferable skills.

MrsGrindah Thu 04-Jun-20 13:39:33

Of course CS recruits externally..people are not born into it! I think your friend meant we often promote internally, which is true. But yes you should always go for it, just like any other job ,if you think you have the skills and experience.

Also CS has moved away from competency based recruitment now and uses Success Profiling.I haven’t experienced that myself yet but I understand it’s a bit more flexible for external applicants

RumpyTurman Thu 04-Jun-20 13:40:25

Go for it! We love external applicants for G7/6 roles. And if they were only being advertised as a tick box (i.e. they have someone in mind for the post already), they'd only advertise internally to limit the application pool. If they've opened it up to exernal applicants, you are definitely not disadvantaged by being external and they are probably hoping for a fresh take on things!

TheSecondMrsAshwell Thu 04-Jun-20 13:40:46

Agree, my Dept starts advertising internally within the Civil Service, but will advertise externally if they feel that the candidates could be stronger. They're also keen to bring new blood in - people who have seen the work from the industry end and can give a different view.

Go for it.

jackparlabane Thu 04-Jun-20 13:41:43

With that skillset, there are certainly jobs going, and we can't recruit fast enough (do be aware that security clearance may take months, so don't give notice until you can confirm a start date!)

Do look for good examples of competency/skills/behaviours applications online, whatever they're using in the Dept you go for, and read the text about what each competency means - the names are often misleading. If you can explain how you meet the positive bhaviours for each competence, then you should be OK at interview.

It's so depressing when someone clearly has good experience but just won't explain it in ways that tick the boxes. And yes, it's a bit farcical but everyone is in the same boat. Being seen to be 100% fair and above board and not wasting money is possibly the largest difference between the civil service and industry.

Truthpact Thu 04-Jun-20 13:47:03

Go for it.

Don't expect a fast paced environment though, like not tons of change happening all the time. I see so many people complaining about civil service being slow paced and change not happening quickly. It's not fast in certain private companies either. Least you're actually helping people in civil service. Private sector, all you're doing is filling the shareholders pockets more.

IsolatedIzzy Thu 04-Jun-20 13:53:42

Over the last 10 years there have been times when external recruitment was barred just because of austerity and the govt not letting the civil service get any bigger.

These rules have been relaxed as the Civil Service is now an ageing workforce with more people over 50 than under 30 and they need 'new blood'!

You might want to move quickly though - the Civil Service will bear the brunt of whatever cuts will come to try and recoup the Covid spending, we're already at the bottom of the pile of Public Sector workers when it comes to pay rises etc.

Cuts to the NHS, key workers etc will be particularly unpalatable after the way they have kept the Country going - no one thinks of the HMRC staff who have worked flat out on the furlough scheme as key workers!

Plaiceholder Thu 04-Jun-20 14:01:53

My department (a division in the HSE) mainly recruits externals. Need to have experience of industry to be competent in the role.

beautifulxdisasters Thu 04-Jun-20 14:08:00

If they had someone in mind they'd have advertised to internal only as PPs have said. They may even have done this already and not got anyone good enough applying internally (this would be standard in one department I've worked in - you have to have a business case for external recruitment and the most common reason was that they'd tried and failed to recruit internally).

As others have said though the hardest thing is making sure your examples fit the "competency framework" style (it's success profiles now but part of that is still competency based). Use STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) focussing primarily on what YOU did and how it made the result better. And only use one example for each competency!

TommyShelby Thu 04-Jun-20 14:30:37

My department seems to have a fair few externals who get hired but what I would say is make sure you know and understand the interview structure. I found CS interviews entirely different from any I encountered in the private sector

SerenDippitty Thu 04-Jun-20 14:32:12

Don't expect a fast paced environment though, like not tons of change happening all the time. I see so many people complaining about civil service being slow paced and change not happening quickly.

I worked for a relatively new dept, not civil service as such but public sector and connected to government,, and they were really into constant change and transformation.

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