Posted tagged ‘job’

The Hidden Barriers of Leaving Local Government

June 16, 2011

What? There's no detailed person spec to answer?

Here at welovelocalgovernment we try to cover all elements of the local government experience. And so, when we were contacted with the offer of a guest post (we do love a guest post!) that would discuss the problems local government employees might face if trying to leave the sector we jumped at the chance.

If you’ve got an article or topic you’d like us to share with our readers send it in to, but not until you’ve enjoyed this from the ‘mysteriously’ named Headhunter.

When the private sector recession was happening a lot of people decided they wanted to think about working in local government, and they encountered a number of issues of cultural unfamiliarity, including the vey different recruitment process blogged about recently.

There are analogous, but in some respects worse, challenges for the many people who are now, voluntarily or otherwise leaving LG and looking to the allegedly burgeoning private sector for their next job.  (Any redundant public servant should of course be reading about the journey of the now re-employed redundant public servant.

Surveys have shown that public sector managers are harder to place in the private sector and that whilst people are looking to the private sector for their next job they are pessimistic about getting there.  What does this mean, in practical terms, for individuals making the journey? And how much of that can I realistically cover in a blog post?  I’m a headhunter, predominantly recruiting for Chief Officer roles having been a chief officer myself, but having started my career in the private sector.  This is what I think…


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:


It’s not going to end well

March 2, 2011

Giving myself a hard time; let's hope the interview is easier

I’ve got my job interview today.

I’m applying for my own job and it’s a mighty weird experience and prompts many questions.

Last week I sat down to prepare my job application.

How much to include from my previous jobs; how much do I need from the current role? How can I capture what I’ve been doing for the past few years without making it sound twee? You can’t exaggerate (the people on the interview panel have been managing you for the past few years) but how to make a case for yourself? Probably best not mention that you write a blog in ‘examples of written communication’ section.

The application was completed and submitted; more questions.

Will the form be the focus of the interview? Will people be trying to rip apart my work of the past few years? Have I made mistakes I’m not aware of? Have I worked hard enough? Did I deliver to a high enough standard? Do others believe I did well enough? If not, why has no-one told me? Are my appraisals enough to get me by or is the interview more important? What if I mess up?

I sit down with the colleagues I’m competing with. We’re all nervous but displaying a sort of gallows humour.

What if I get the job? Will I be happy? What about the colleagues who don’t get the job? Is it wrong to want them to make a mistake? I actually don’t; I like them all, they’re all good at their job and deserve to stay. But I deserve it more right? Will I feel guilty if I’m the survivor? What if I’m asked who else I think deserves to stay? I have my feelings on the issue but it’d be disloyal right?

And what about the other jobs in the structure? Is there the chance for a promotion? Do I even want a promotion? Will I be more vulnerable in twelve months time if I do? Is it going to make it less likely that I’ll get my own job if I’m also looking at other roles? What’s my internal insurance policy?

And that’s before the interview.

More questions still to come, and these might just matter more.