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Working in the civil service

(11 Posts)
ReceptacleForTheRespectable Fri 12-Jun-20 22:47:08

I'm in the process of applying for an SEO role in the civil service. I've worked in both public and private sector before (currently private), but never in the civil service, so I'm interested to hear from MNers what it's like. The role is a finance/accountancy one, outside of London.

For various reasons, the role I'm applying for is a little below what my skillset might suggest. If I came in at an SEO, how easy might it be for me to apply for (and get) a promotion to grade 7 a year or two down the line?

Also, I'm interested to hear any insight as to what the culture and working environment is like.

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Wigeon Fri 12-Jun-20 22:57:06

Do you mind saying which department? They have really different cultures, and areas within them might do too (policy vs ministerial office vs a big operational team etc).

jackparlabane Fri 12-Jun-20 22:59:05

It'll vary a lot by department and exactly what the role is (pure operations? Dealing with the public?) But on the whole likely to work hard during set hours, then working late us fairly optional because it's the grade 7 who is tasked with delivering.
Coming in from outside then applying for G7 once you have your head round the civil service is common, but outside London will depend on how many roles there are in your city.

Huge emphasis on being seen to be using taxpayers' money wisely, which means loads of clearance processes to spend a penny... Can be very annoying.

Nonnymum Fri 12-Jun-20 23:00:40

There isn't just one civil. Service culture each department has its own, and can be very different from each other.

ReceptacleForTheRespectable Fri 12-Jun-20 23:02:43

I think it would be a smallish technical department that sits under HM treasury. Hard to get a feel for it as an outsider though!

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stayingontherail Fri 12-Jun-20 23:32:59

I would advise spend the first six months getting skilled in your area, the next six becoming the go to person, then the next six scouting around for your next step. At a minimum after 18 months you should be looking for the next step or you might get stuck. In my experience it is easier to get promoted in another dept than advancing in the one you are in. It can take ages to get the promotion so don’t lose the momentum or you could get stuck (I say that as someone in my grade for three years and I’m currently a bit stuck.)

Isleepinahedgefund Sat 13-Jun-20 07:01:48

There are a lot less opportunities outside London so it does make it a bit harder to get promotions, especially if you are working in a specialised area (i'd count finance as a bit specialised). I'd say that if you think you should be working at G7, apply for a G7 job now. Of all the grades to get stuck in when you know you can do the higher grade work, S is definitely the worst!

Each department has its own distinct culture - I've worked in 4 departments now and they are all very different. I love my current dept, but the previous one was so bad I left after 6 months.

Experiences with promotion vary - personally it took me about 2 months to get a promotion from S to 7 once I started applying.

The idea that you're stuck after 18mo and should move posts that often is something the CS is trying to get away from too. Policy it's more common for people to move round every 5 mins.

ReceptacleForTheRespectable Sat 13-Jun-20 20:54:04

I did apply for a G7 role, and got shortlisted, but then recruitment for that role got put on hold (I assume due to funding being withdrawn?)

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ReceptacleForTheRespectable Sat 13-Jun-20 20:56:02

It's interesting to hear the differing experiences wrt promotions though - thanks.

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Wigeon Sat 13-Jun-20 22:00:14

The Treasury’s reputation is that it is full of very confident, very academic, over-promoted Oxbridge 20 year olds who are all a bit pleased with themselves, and generally like to boss other departments about grin. This is only partly true IME grin. But a technical arm’s length body of the Treasury could be very different. In very general terms, turnover of staff in regional offices is often a lot less than in the London based offices, and people tend to be a bit older and have been in their post for a lot longer. This has its pros and cons.

In general, good people can generally get promoted from SEO to G7 pretty rapidly - a year might be possible, and sometimes it’s luck, eg whether a G7 opportunity has arisen in your team and the recruiting manager knows you, which might mean a quicker promotion than if you had to hunt around. It might also depend on how important civil service knowledge is for that G7 role - I was always a bit wary of promoting someone really new to the CS to G7 because you need your G7s to work pretty autonomously and take responsibility for a broad range of things, which can be hard if you are still learning what a PQ is. But this could be different (less important) in a finance role compared to policy (my area).

Regarding recruitment for a role being put on hold: in the CS it’s not to do with funding being withdrawn. It’s more likely to be: department restructuring and so a temporary freeze on recruitment, or the team structure changing especially given Covid plus Brexit, both of which are leading to a lot of uncertainty). I would ask the recruiting manager why the post has been put on hold, whether they are likely to re-start the recruitment (it’s possible), and any estimate of timescales. As a recruiting manager I would have thought all those very legitimate questions if a short-listed candidate had asked me, and it’s not unhelpful to know a candidate is still keen. The pause on the recruitment may well be outside the manager’s hands and they may be as frustrated as you!

ReceptacleForTheRespectable Sun 14-Jun-20 10:06:48

That's good to hear - I was planning to follow up on it if I hadn't heard back soon, so will do so. Applying for jobs can often be a frustrating / laborious process, so nothing new there!

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