At the time of writing, there are 1867 jobs currently available in the Civil Service. This across a wide variety of departments from the ministry of defence to the Food regulatory board. Working for the Civil Service can be incredibly attractive to some, with generous salaries, good pension contributions and excellent job security as well as the promise of being able to move further up the ladder. If you’re thinking of applying for a role in the Civil Service, then you’ll certainly come in contact with at least some of the levels of its famously tricky applications process. Of course, this will differ slightly from department to department but by following this guide you will have the best possible chance of winning your desired position.
1. The Initial Application
If you’re thinking of applying for a role in the civil service or simply want to see what is available, all their current postings are listed on the Civil Service jobs website. Once you’ve found a job you’re interested in and checked the job specification and requirements – most Civil Service jobs require at least 5 GCSE’s but depending on the job there may be some other specialist qualifications/experience requirements – you’ll move on to the applications page.
In order to apply for a role, you’ll need to make an account on the government website, email address, password etc will be required before you can move on to the actual application. Once you’re into the applications process it’s important to note that you will only have 45 minutes to complete your initial application, so it’s crucial to keep in mind the time. It will ask you a handful of the usual questions before moving on to the next section.
2. Your CV
Although you might have a beautifully designed CV filled to the brim with the best job-winning content (and if you don’t you should check out our CV Writing Services to find out how we can help you with this and other applications) sadly you can’t upload it straight onto the Government system and be on your merry way.
Instead, it is divided into three individual sections: Employment History, Previous skills and experience and your qualifications. Now all of these will probably feature in your CV however I would avoid the temptation to do a simple “copy and paste job” and submit. With every job application, it’s important to review your experience and skills and apply them to the job specification but this is even more crucial when applying for a Civil Service position.
For the “Employment History” section give specific details of your previous roles, particularly in the areas that seem relevant to the role you wish to be employed in. When it comes to the Previous skills section try and think about how your previous experience fits with what the employer wants and try to address it directly, using your experience as evidence.
3.Behaviours and technical skills
While the previous sections may be familiar to you from other job applications, the behaviour and technical skills section of the Civil service application process is particular to government recruitment. As such it must be answered in a very specific way in order to move onto the interview stage.
The question asked will differ from department to department depending on what skills they want you to demonstrate but the way in which you should respond to the question remains the same for all. The Civil Service want you to demonstrate a specific way of thinking, something they refer to as STAR or Situation, Task, Action and Result. This involves appraising and detailing the situation, outlining the task needing to be accomplished, describing the action and how it achieves a result.
This specific way of depicting the behaviours and technical skills the application outlines can be quite tricky to get your head around but once you have it becomes quite a simple routine. The best way in which to think of this is to work backwards from the outcome.
For example, if you were applying for a marketing and communications role the behaviour the application might ask you to detail could be “communicating and influencing.” This is basically asking you to demonstrate how in the past you have demonstrated your ability to market or spread awareness of a product or service. On your CV you might have quite a few results based examples of how you have achieved this, ie. Increasing Instagram followers by 130% in a month or conversions by 10 a week.
These evidence-based experiences are great and certainly work to demonstrate your suitability for the role but they aren’t all that the application process is interested in. As we’ve previously mentioned, they want you to show you can think in a certain way. With this in mind, rather than thinking about this achievement in isolation think about it in regards to the STAR process.
The result is obviously the increase in followers, but what action did you take to achieve this? Did you put on promotions, or utilise a Google ad? Think about how you achieved it and make a list of the methods you utilised. The same applies to the task and situation, it may have been that you started working for a start-up company that needed to increase its leads. Chances are your own experience might be a bit less broad than this example but for our purposes, the situation is starting for a start-up company that is in its marketing infancy and the task is to increase the number of leads and conversions through social media/direct marketing.
The same applies to the technical skills section, by working backwards from the result you know that you’ve covered all the sections that the application wants. Therefore, when you write out your answer you can be sure that you’ve addressed each section, demonstrating that not only do you have the requisite experience for the job but that you can also think through tasks in a logical process. For any more information, or if you’re unsure about anything try looking at the official guidance provided by the Civil Service.
4. You’ve Completed your Application!
Congratulations! You’ve completed the first step in becoming a civil servant. Once you’ve submitted your applications you can kick back and relax… at least until you get to the next step of the recruitment process – the dreaded interview. Don’t worry too much though, this part of the recruitment process is pretty standard, so if you follow the advice from our Guide to Acing Your Job Interview you should be in with a good shot of landing your job.
If the worst should happen and you don’t hear back from your job application or they reply and tell you that you were unfortunately unsuccessful, then it’s important not to let the disappointment get in the way of applying again. The civil service gets hundreds of applications a week for its positions, so just because the employer didn’t choose you doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try again. If you’d like to give yourself the best chance of landing your dream job, contact us for a free CV consultation today. With services including CV polishes, rewrites, Linkedin profiles and cover letters we offer a complete toolkit to YOUR Career success.