Should you start thinking of your future now?
Headlines such as ‘1 in 10 public sector workers face axe’ (have caused unease and uncertainty in public sector employees, concerned they may be one of the 490,000 to lose their job.
The CIPD put the figure higher. John Philpott said that public sector job cuts had been ‘understated’ and that from the end of 2009-10 until 2015-16 the public sector would lose 725,000 jobs. Whatever the figure, job losses in the civil service will be significant and it could be you.
I read that two thirds of public sector workers are female and so a higher number of women are likely to be affected by these redundancies.
As a public sector employee you could take the ‘wait and see’ approach or you could start getting prepared. Probably better to be clear on who you are, what you can offer and the sort of work you would love to do with an effective CV ready to go rather than to avoid thinking about this at all and hope that it won’t be you.
What could I do?
Faced with the need to get another job people will often seek a move to something similar in a different industry. A finance manager/ accountant could transfer to a job in any industry or sector. An operations manager with DWP could move to be an operations manager with a national charity; a manager of social workers could find a job as a manager in a children’s home.
However, there will also be many public sector people who don’t enjoy their jobs and who have always wanted to do something else, but not always sure what. For them possible redundancy may provide the freedom for them to do what they really want, once they know what that is. But planning the transition is vital.
Public and private sector, what are the differences
The public sector operates at national, county and local level, supporting ministers to govern the country and providing a range of services – medical, security, education etc. The private sector works for a profit, either making things or providing a service. The focus on making money for shareholders means there is an emphasis on productivity and output.
In general terms in the public sector there is more focus on stability and less on innovation. It takes time for ideas to be considered and implemented. Of course some parts of the public sector will be more innovative but in many parts of the private sector the pace is much quicker.
Of course these are generalisations and sterotypes but some of the poeple you meet may share these views.
The ties of a public sector pension
An index linked pension is becoming so rare that it’s understandable that many people won’t want to give it up. But do you really want to count away the years, possibly 20 years or more and stay in a job that you really don’t enjoy? But if you are facing compulsory redundancy you won’t have a choice.
Moving on from the public sector
If you face redundancy your preparation can include
Rather than to focus on what’s likely to be done to you, how unfair life is, there is always the other way to look at it. To see it as a positive, a chance in a lifetime, especially when you will get a redundancy payout. But you do need a resilient attitude and mindset.
Knowing your transferable skills and abilities
First step is to know what you can offer – what are your transferable skills? Think about the jobs you have done, the skills you have used in each job, the ones you are best at and also the ones that you want to continue to use.
Unpick the skills you have used in your different jobs and group these into categories you can then revise your CV around these rather than to focus on a job title.
You need to be able to demonstrate your abilities and strengths to meet the job you are applying for. You can’t expect the interviewer to spend time looking for a match. You need to demonstrate both in your application and at interview that you have the necessary background and you understand their problems. This includes using industry specific terms and referring to trends.
Often the most valuable skills to have are organisational skills and the ability to work in a fast paced environment, communication skills both oral and written.
The 10 steps to a job you love eProgramme provides exercises asking you to consider interests, personality, values, skills, ability, goals and much more. Working your way through this can help you understand yourself better and help in career exploration. You may also benefit from working with a career coach.
Be clear what it is that you want – you can’t just look for another job. You must know what job and why.
Need for a CV
For many jobs you need to have a CV and there are many books that will help you to create one. A key difference is to relate public sector experience to a commercial world. This includes focusing more on what you have achieved in numerical terms, such as money saved.
It’s not just public vs. private, there are a range of options – not for profit, charities, social enterprises. When moving from the public sector you need to relate your background to a more commercial setting. How can you demonstrate you understand the challenges of the environment you seek to move into, can you talk their language?
How you match up
At clerical/ admin level it can be much easier to make the transition, the skills are likely to be similar, wherever you work. If you are a technical expert, such as you work in IT as a systems analyst or programmer, your expertise is likely to be in demand in many companies.
For many jobs you will need to be able to show that you understand the differences and can clearly relate how your background matches up. There is much more focus on performance, they want to know that you can actually deliver. There can be a quicker pace of work, and often no flexi time.
Don’t be put off by job ads which say things like ‘5 years experience in a commercial management role’ it just means that want someone who will deliver results.
In many parts of the public sector every candidate gets asked the same question with no follow up. In the private sector there is more likelihood of a competency based interview with in depth probing. Will you need help to get you interview ready?
What you can do
Many will wait and see, but you could get started much sooner. Just like preparing for an adventure holiday, you can do some relevant reading, work out what you will take and perhaps have to work on increasing your fitness level.
The transition covers 3 phases and you can start on phase 1 now.
- Understand your strengths, and the skills you want to use.
- Think about your achievements from each of your jobs.
- Collect testimonials, course certificates and examples of what you have done that you could include in a folder and share at interview if appropriate.
- Create a first draft CV.
- Get on LinkedIn and make a note of people you know so you can begin to network.
- Look at the sorts of jobs that are being advertised and print out details of any that appeal to you.
- Think about your finances, do you need to review your spending habits?
- Look closer at the jobs you see advertised.
- Review career exploration sites to think about the sorts of jobs you would like to do.
- Get a bit clearer on what you want – a full time job, 2 part time jobs, a portfolio career?
- Once a date to leave is imminent it’s time to revise your CV and get ready for job hunting, looking at both applying for jobs you see advertised and also how to take the direct approach. You need to be proactive and get out there and look for opportunities, not to wait for them to come to you.
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