Archive for May 25, 2011

The hidden barrier to getting a job in Local Government

May 25, 2011


There are many reasons that talented people from outside local government don’t come into the sector. But before the money, the culture, negative perceptions and career concerns come into play the prospective applicant from outside local government has to face another major barrier: the local government application form.

Having applied for a few private sector jobs, and even got a few, I thought I had a fairly good appreciation of the job application process. It generally went something like this:

1)      Answer some open style questions (2-5) or provide a covering letter detailing why you are suitable for the job

2)      Send in your CV

Everything should be kept to two pages maximum as you know that the recruitment manager is probably going to spend 30 seconds on each application.

This is a massive generalisation but helps explain why experiencing the local government job application process was a major shock to the system.

Not every council asks applicants to apply in the same way but in general it works something like this:

1)      The applicant is asked NOT to provide a CV under any circumstances.

2)      They are then asked to illustrate how they are suitable for the job in question by supplying answers for each element of a person specification listed on the job advert. Often there are between 15 and 30 person specification requirements, each requiring an answer.

3)      Then, the general information that would be supplied on a CV is required.

As you can probably appreciate this is a slightly more lengthy process.

Whereas the archetypal private sector application favours, and even encourages, brevity the local government process favours those who write, not just a little, but a lot!

This has two impacts: