In times of a tough job market, it’s easy to assume all public sector employers are putting on a recruitment freeze or hiring the bare minimum amount of staff.
But what if we told you that one of the country’s major employers are not only currently employing around 498,000 full-time staff, but they’re also still hiring? We’re talking about working as a civil servant. Interested?
So, what will I actually be doing?
A civil servant is someone who works for the Home Civil Service – a politically neutral organisation that advises and supports the government in delivering policies and public services.
The nitty gritty
With over 170 departments in the civil service – such as the Treasury, Ministry of Justice and Department for Work and Pensions – there’s plenty of jobs to choose from, from administrative support to departmental managers to senior civil servants, one is bound to suit you.
As you’d expect, administrative staff will update records, answer phones and take minutes.
Middle management (policy advisors, project leaders, researchers) need to have an in depth knowledge of their respective department as they’ll be expected to advise ministers, research and write reports and help formulate policy.
Senior management (policy manager, director or deputy director) work very closely with government ministers helping them formulate and implement policy.
People who work in civil servant jobs get 22-25 days annual leave plus ten and a half public and privilege holidays. While some civil servant positions will be largely office based, others may spend a lot of time at meetings, conferences or on training days.
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Money, money, money
Again it depends on the role you choose. Administrative roles offer between £14 and £20k per year. Middle managers start on around £24k per year increasing to £50k plus per annum. Heads of departments earn £140k and the cabinet secretary earns £239,999.
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The good points...
“It can be a really exciting place to work. As a graduate you can be posted every six months so you get a really broad experience and fabulous placements. I worked at the Cabinet Office seeing ministers on a daily basis. There are also great benefits and good annual leave,” says Terry who worked at both the Cabinet Office and the office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
The civil service is a vast organisation and offers many opportunities for its employees to progress whether that’s via an administrative, managerial or consultancy route.
If you’re looking for flexible work, then this is the career for you, as these public sector roles tend to come with manageable hours, flexible working options and good holiday allowance. Many posts operate on a flexitime system and part-time and job share opportunities are usually available too.
...and the bad
“The civil service is weighed down with tradition and it’s not necessarily a place for individualism or creativity. You can encounter very closely-knit circles and it can be quite intimidating.”
Is there study involved?
Although there is no minimum requirement to apply for administrative roles, you would be expected to have at least five GCSEs (A-C) including English or maths and you will be required to sit tests to demonstrate your skills.
Gradates can apply to the Civil Service Fast Stream – an accelerated training programme dedicated to forming the future managers and decision makers. Applicants will need to have at least a 2:2 degree and there is also an entrance exam. The Fast Stream is a four-year training programme and competition for places is very intense.
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OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
This career suits people best with:
- Finely-honed organisational and time management skills
- A methodical approach to work and a great attention to detail
- Comfortable handling confidential information responsibly
- The ability to follow procedures