Want a job in the public sector? Here’s how to get one

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In an effort to recruit top talent, employers are more and more creative with their incentives, offering offbeat job titles Ambassador of Buzz at Grasshopper), cereal bars at Moz and bring your pet to work schemes at Trupanion.

While these are all attractive perks and fun to boot, a recent study conducted by AAT found that respect, flexible hours and hard-working colleagues were the top three factors that determined happiness at work for employees.

For many, this balance can be found in public sector roles, where employees feel they are engaging in meaningful work and also experience benefits such as flexible working hours. The public sector is also a gateway for apprentices and graduates.

Five NHS trusts made the The City and Guilds Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list and the Civil Service Fast Stream provides an opportunity for graduates to advance in their career paths quickly.

So what does working in the public sector look like?

Darren Theobald (MAAT) began his career with the NHS working unpaid two days a week. Three years on he is now Assistant Finance Manager, Corporate, SLR and Reference Costing at Mid Essex Hospital Service.

What attracted you to working for the NHS?

They offer voluntary internships and a foot in the door. Since working for the organisation I have realised what a great organisation it is and that there are fantastic opportunities to build a career.

How does a day at work look like?

Very hectic! I work in management accounts and we are constantly dealing with requests, analysing data and having meetings with budget holders. Even though we are in finance we really feel a part of the hospital and are actively involved in ensuring NHS standards are upheld.

Anything that surprised you about working for the NHS?

I was surprised at the calibre of people working within the NHS. The quality of staff across all departments is excellent. There are many complexities in running a hospital that the public may not be aware of.

On a daily basis we deal with numerous NHS bodies and private organisations whilst ensuring we provide first class healthcare for patients.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I enjoy getting behind the numbers and working out the real effects to the hospital from an operational point of view. I also love the fact that I work for a national health service that is world renowned for its healthcare and processes.

What are some of the benefits of working in the public sector?

The NHS is one of the UK’s largest employers so there are fantastic opportunities to move sideways and upwards to build your career. The NHS invests in its staff with training and continual professional development.

It also gives professional people the opportunity to have a rewarding job yet still work locally to their home. The ability to finish work and be home within 10 minutes to spend time with my family and study for my next qualification is priceless.

So then, how do I go about getting a job at the NHS?

Sotiris Kyriacou, Head of Finance Development & Professionalism/Programme Lead – Coaching, Mentoring & Talent (London NHS Region) offers advice for getting your foot in the door.

Why are apprentices so highly valued in the NHS?

“Technicians are an integral part of the finance function within the NHS. An AAT qualification fits very well within our schemes. We are always on the lookout to employ talented individuals’ that can pick roles up really quickly. ”

How do I decide what to study?

“I always say to students that when they are making the decision around a qualification to really think about what type of accountant they want to be. So if they want to be a financial accountant then to look for roles and a qualification that centres on giving them success in that area.

If you are interested in a more people oriented role then opportunities in financial management could be the right path for you.”

How can a candidate delight an interviewer?

We look for people who have had work experience, come across positively and know about the NHS. Being organised, focused and honest on their CVs; these facets also help a NHS candidate stand out from the crowd.

Any advice about succeeding with the NHS?

You have to be thick skinned. Healthcare is a very complex business and you need to be comfortable with the fact that some things will inevitably be out of your control.

Those who don’t like change will struggle working in an organisation that is in constant transition.

Dale Rolfe is AAT's Content Manager.

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