The pandemic has seen all of us think a bit more about what we want to do when restrictions drop. For many, that might be a chance of career to something more rewarding. For others at the start of their career, inspired by the way Britain came together to fight the virus, it’s a question of finding a job that allows them to play a part in the wider community.
For all of those people, the civil service has a job for you. There has never been a better time to consider a career within the civil service, with an enormous range of openings available across the UK. As well as playing your part in delivering world-leading public services, there are a wide range of benefits throughout the civil service including the opportunity to make a difference, flexibility, generous annual and parental leave and a host of other benefits. Covering a variety of roles and sectors including education, health and law enforcement, you are sure to find a job that is right for you.
We spoke to some who have made the leap into the civil service.
“The fact I was able to help was very rewarding”
Andrew Rasburn is a 33-year old HR business partner at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport based in Manchester. But he didn’t always work in the civil service.
“My first job was a short spell selling emergency safety equipment to businesses, including emergency safety showers. It wasn’t really for me – I’m not a particularly great salesman,” he admits.
Andrew says he was always drawn to the idea of public service, and joined the Department for Work and Pensions. One of his first roles within the civil service was as a work coach in a job centre.
“The work we did in the job centre,” he says, was particularly rewarding. “You’d see somebody for a period of a week or a year, while they go on their journey to look and find work and supporting them in that was very rewarding when they finally came in and said ‘guess what, I’ve got a job’,”.
Rasburn’s roles have always been outside of London, and he says the civil service is more open to that now than they perhaps were beforehand.
His roles in the civil service have been in Leigh, in Wigan, and then Sheffield, Liverpool and now back in Manchester.
“When I first joined seven years ago, I think it felt more like you needed to be based in London,” he says, but thinks the atmosphere has changed as have the requirements.
Above all, Andrew feels good about his work – not least when he was on secondment to the joint biosecurity centre during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“That was very long hours, it was quite stressful. But the sense of achievement when you saw products come together,” he says, makes it all worthwhile.
“I was 18 working in strategic communications on Covid-19”
More and more civil service applications come from school leavers choosing to go straight into work rather than go to university. One such is Amber Warne, 19.
“I’m currently working as a campaign manager within two teams in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. I work on climate campaigns on the Cop-26 presidency year and on the GREAT challenge fund,” she says.
Amber says she had always envisioned going to university. “When I started to visit and apply for universities the cost and associated debt was a factor that weighed heavily on my mind,” she says.
“I started to research alternative routes and came across higher apprenticeships, an opportunity to study for a qualification whilst working and gaining experience. The Government Communication Service apprenticeship offered experience in communications, which was an area I had always wanted to work in,” she says.
Though the interview process was daunting, Amber got the role and hasn’t looked back.
“I joined the apprenticeship at 18 and as a young person starting their career I expected people to doubt me and my lack of experience, but that was not the case at all,” she says.
“I’ve been given so many opportunities that have helped to develop me, and have been able to attend courses to develop my professional skills and build the foundations of my career.”
Above all, Amber has enjoyed the opportunity to play a part in agenda-setting campaigns and events. She worked on Cop-26, the gathering of world political, business and environmental leaders in Glasgow, held in the last quarter of 2021. It was a defining event for the globe’s fight against climate change, and Amber played a big role in that despite being just at the start of her career.
“Working in the civil service means you are working on real life issues. I was 18 working in the strategic communications team on Covid-19 and Cop-26; where else is that possible? You are in situations that push you out of your comfort zone and force you to challenge yourself,” she says.
“It’s investing in our people to really make a difference”
Catherine Wilday works within the Child Maintenance group for the Department for Work and Pensions in the West Midlands.
The 46-year-old has been in the civil service for 27 years, but didn’t think that would be the case when she took a six-week job in a filing role all those years ago.
“The civil service encompasses so many things that people would never consider – I didn’t, when I was 18. I just thought you were a servant to the public, doing things like filing.
“But I wanted to be involved with people,” she says. A little bit of research and some college courses later, she became a training officer.
Like many in the civil service, she has moved between different roles, allowing her to develop her skills across a wide range of roles.
“One of my passions is around wellbeing and diversity, and I’m now currently working in communications. I also deal with inclusion and wellbeing groups to ensure that everybody feels included and everyone’s supported no matter where they are in the country,” she tells us.
Like all of us, the last two years have thrown up particular challenges – but Catherine reckons that has only made her work more rewarding.
“We’ve seen a lot of people struggling to cope with everything that’d been going on. And what we do is put that support mechanism in place. We can’t solve those problems, but we can definitely signpost,” she says.
But for her the people she works with are one of the best parts of the job.
“The people I work with are game changes. They really do make a difference, just being there for each other and supporting each other. They do that, and I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people to work with,” she says.
A vast range of roles
From the foreign office to child maintenance and everything in between, there are a wide range of roles available for candidates with all kinds of experience.