Tag Archives: public sector

Job Search: References for those in the public sector

refJob Search: References for those in the public sector

Many public sector organizations will only offer bland references as your employer.  You will need their reference.   But when it arrives it may only be a confirmation that you worked for them in a particular grade over a particular period of time.

Most large private sector employers know this – for others you may have to explain.  You will need something more.  Try asking your line manager or someone in your management line if they would be prepared to give you a personal reference as well as the one sent officially by HR.   Many managers are more ready than you expect to help. Also consider approaching retired senior colleagues and others who have left organisation.

You might consider asking for a personal reference from someone who holds a senior position in the private sector.  This is where people you have met during work in a voluntary capacity may be useful. Otherwise, consider people who you have met through clubs and associations.

You shouldn’t feel embarrassed about asking for a reference. Most people feel flattered to be asked But you should always give people the opportunity to say no and make quite clear that you will understand if they feel they simply don’t know you well enough to help.

If you need advice in a particular situation please get in touch.

I hope you are have a very good week.

Warm regards
Wendy
wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com 
http://wisewolfcoaching.com

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Corporate Panic and lessons from the Wolf Pack!

Eleven-member wolf pack in winter, Yellowstone...

I left the UK public sector five years ago.  At that time people management skills appeared to be in the decline.  I noticed this particularly in how restructuring exercises were being handled.  It was the main reason I chose to go!

I had always been very proud to be part of the UK Civil Service! Sadly that ceased when I saw how some of my colleagues were being treated. No, not because we were being downsized – it was how we were being downsized.

Well, the UK public sector has changed a lot since I left and I do not mean in terms of the colour of the government.  In terms of managing change, few lessons seem to have been learned and a good number seem to have been forgotten.

There have always been good and bad employers – bosses with more and less finesse when dealing with their employees.  My encounters with large private sector corporates, has led me to think they are not better or worse at handling people than those in the public sector.  Good practice in small and medium-sized bodies varies widely in both sectors.

Recently I have heard some very strange and rather sad tales from those in both the public and private sectors. I have heard about organizations going through their third and fourth restructuring in a few months.

On top of that, I am being told of people who have had to reapply for their own roles three and four times in those exercises. As you will understand the effect on staff morale is devastating.

Running large corporate change programmes – even when well handled – costs a lot of money.

Right now, not only is there a lot of change but it is very clear that it is not being handled well.

As one former colleague with vast experience of managing public sector change successfully said to me;

“They try to manage a restructure themselves and can’t. So then they bring in one of the large consultancy firms to help and they just seem to make it worse. They are being told to finish the change quickly, so they don’t try to find out what we do really but they get well paid.”

What is going wrong?  Well yes, I do know about the economy and the need to make “cuts”.  And yes I do know we live in a world of constant change.

But there seems to be a kind of corporate panic/frenzy around and that is the worst way to respond.  Now more than ever we need real leadership and we need leadership confident enough to be serene when all about are running round like headless chickens.

Think about a wolf pack!  Wolves have to flex and change all the time as they hunt.  The constants are that they are quite clear why they are there, the strengths and weaknesses they possess and their roles. The leader sniffs the wind and off they go in very good order.

The weather may change about them and the quarry may lead them into new and difficult terrain.  But because they are well led, have a strong commitment to the pack and are clear about their roles they succeed often enough to thrive even in the most challenging times.


Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. 

She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

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Tycoonwoman takes on the Abyss of Self Doubt

Simulated gravitational lensing (black hole go...

Ola Agbaimoni (Tycoonwoman) left the public sector a year ago after 25 years in local government.  She took the plunge, left and set up her own company, Leaders to Follow Ltd. She works with work with ambitious, heart centered

 women in their late 30s to mid 50s who are committed achieving their true potential. 

But like most people starting a new business she had some difficult times on the way. Below is something she wrote a few months ago – before she moved on to success.  It is a very good example of what the bad times can feel like. But if you want to succeed in business you just have to pick yourself up like Ola did, arm yourself with self belief and move forward.

“I’m still busy going to network meetings and talking to people, although perhaps not as many as my conversion projections would suggest.  In sales’ speak that means how many people you have to speak to before you convert one into some one prepared to pay you, well in this case me. I won’t scare you with the numbers and to be honest you only have to do it that way until you get people prepared to recommend you, nothing sells you better than personal recommendation. This is me looking on the bright side. However, I often find myself starring into the Abyss Of Self Doubt.

The Abyss of Self Doubt

I have no clients. Not a single one. No one is paying me for my services.  I have very clearly defined services and a fantastic elevator pitch to describe them. However, as yet they remain in my head because I have no leaflets and even though I have a web page it says UNDER CONSTRUCTION –a lot of help that is to potential clients!. It’s all going round and round in circles. I don’t want to produce my publicity without sorting out my branding and without publicity I won’t get any clients,  so I won’t earn any money and I won’t be able to pay someone to do my branding and without branding I can’t do my publicity …I think you get the drift.

I can’t get to grips with why I don’t seem able to move forward. What is really going on for me? I did think it was because I’m not used to doing my own administration, but clearly that is just an excuse. Something else is prevented me from moving forward with my business and making money.  I am not making any money at present (waling voice). Indeed I am not even spending money. So imagine my surprise when the HMRC sent me a VAT  bill. Yes a VAT bill!  When I already told them that I was not trading! When I already called and asked them if I needed to submit a VAT return for August as I was about to leave the country, AND as they had sent the notice so late, there was no time to respond before I left.

They said ‘no you don’t need to send in a VAT return. Your application missed the deadline and our system doesn’t show that one is due. We will send you a bill for the next quarter’.

I said ‘Are you sure? I don’t want you to write to me telling me that I should have sent you a return. Can you please put that on my records, so that if somebody else sees it they will know that you told me this?’

‘Yes’ said the very helpful (but as I discovered later) very ill informed person on the phone.

Clearly it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that it all ended in tears. With me having to quickly put in a VAT return, which basically said I have spent money on an IPad and have not made a single penny because I DON’T HAVE ANY CLIENTS!.  I DON’T HAVE ANY CLIENTS!.

I am finding it so hard to find clients. I’ve done the ‘Painless Selling’ training. According to this – there are opportunities to find clients everywhere! All you have to do is start a conversation with a complete stranger! Show them their pain and behold you have a client! Yeh right!!!.

In the first place I really don’t want every single conversation I have to be a sales pitch.  Definitely incongruence there – how can I be putting forward the philosophy that you have to be open and honest with people and come from a place of integrity, if I only ever talk to people because I’m trying to sell them something?

Anyway I have a deep aversion to sales people. As soon as I detect the sales pitch my guard goes up and I become completely defensive, horrible and nine times out of ten rude! The only thing I can think if is ‘GO AWAY!’ So if this is going to work for me (and I really want it to) I have to find another way.

I thought of talking to everyone I meet regardless of their client potential.  Every conversation would just be a conversation. A sharing formation rather than a sales pitch. But how much time do I have to do that? I worked out that I would have to speak to over 1200 people per month to get 20 clients wow. (Oops Just gave you the scary figures!) Clearly that isn’t doable! When would I have time to coach them?!.

Ok enough of the Abyss of self doubt. It really isn’t as bad as all that. I’m getting stuck into my networking via 4Networking  -‘ … the first joined-up national Networking organisation to let you decide where you go to meet like-minded business people, how often you go and how you can generate results for your business. They guaranteed 3 ten minute meetings at every event – up to 4 times a week – in nearly 200 linked breakfast groups’

I volunteered to be the group’s marketing assistant because you get your membership for half price and you can call any business you like and invite them to breakfast and then set up a meeting with them before anyone else can – what power. Takes the sting out of cold calling and I’ve already managed to find a business to trade coaching time for design skills.

So I shall leave on an optimistic note. The most powerful business tool I’ve discovered to date is self belief. With it you can get through the Abyss of self doubt and come out the other side more determined to succeed. Without it … I guess you just die in there! “

Tycoonwoman

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Can People From The Public Sector Survive In Business?

Today we have a guest post from Margaret Adams who is an expert in all aspects of business communications.  She started her career in the public sector but has gone on to run a successful business.  You can find out more about Margaret at this link

I get very cross when I hear radio interviews asking THAT sort of question.  You know the sort of interview I mean.  The subject of the discussion is how someone who has just left a job in the public sector is struggling in the “real” world.  The implication is that people from the public sector can’t survive in the business world. 

I would like to disagree.

I spent my employed life in the public sector – in the education world.  Just for the record, I’ve been in business for almost twenty years.  That means that, at one level, I’m living proof that ex-public sector employees can survive in business.

From my standpoint – having been in business for a long time – I would like to remind people in the public sector who are about to launch themselves into the business world, that they have three great advantages when they decide to set up their businesses.

You have large organisation experience

If you’ve worked in the public sector you’ve worked in a large organisation.  Even if you’ve worked in an outpost of a local authority or health establishment, you’ve been linked to a large organisation.

You know that large organisations have systems, processes and procedures to help them to function.  That means you understand the value of adopting a systematic approach to getting things done.

Lots of people who set up in businesses don’t have this type of experience.  They often end up trying to complete every task that needs doing in an ad hoc manner.  They do things in one way on Monday and they adopt a very different approach on Friday. They struggle with systems and processes.  They don’t like to be constrained by rules.

As a result they work extraordinarily hard and use up lots of energy.  However, they often work inefficiently.  They don’t treat their customers very well, because their customers never know quite what to expect of them.  When they grow their businesses, they can make poor employers, because they hate rules.

These are mistakes that you’re not going to make.  You know about the benefits of organising work.  You value your experience of functioning in a structured working environment, and you know how to make use of your knowledge now you’re starting your business.

You know negotiation comes with the job

As someone who has worked in a large organisation you know that you often have to negotiate with people to get things done.  You don’t have formal authority over every one who you need to interact with and work with.  You know that if you’re going to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for, you must become an expert in setting up win-win situations. You must be able to explain the benefits of co-operation and collaboration to other people.  You must be able to persuade and influence others.

You’ll need these skills again, once you’re in business on your own account.  Congratulations on having developed them to a high standard already.

You know that plans are important

Strategic plans, new projects, strategies for implementing the requirements of white papers and instructions from government departments are things you understand.

You know how important plans are.  You’ve seen how bigger plans are broken down into chunks to be implemented in different units and departments and by different teams.  You also know that you need to stick to a plan once it’s agreed.  In short, you know that plans and planning matter.

Again you’ve had some excellent training.  That means that once you’re working in your business you’ll be less likely to be blown off course than the business owner who doesn’t have a plan and doesn’t value planning.

And the downside

Every one has lots to learn in the early days in business.  That applies to people leaving jobs in the private sector to start businesses just as much as it applies to people leaving the public sector to become business people.

People leaving the public sector have different things to learn because their experience of employment is probably different from that of many of their private sector counterparts.

In neither case does the fact that new business owners have a lot to learn mean that they’re not going to survive in business.

The challenge for you is to learn enough to ensure your business survives before your cushion of resource or savings runs out.

Therefore, don’t listen to the people who tell you can’t build a business, because of your background.  Show them you can succeed by learning what you need to learn quickly and making good use of the experience you already have.

Margaret Adams helps businesses to find the right things to say about themselves both online and offline.  She specialises in helping solo professionals to succeed in business.  Find out more about her work at: http://www.margaretadams.co.uk

 

 

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Adding value to your CV

Gold

See the value laid out before you!

Dave has drafted his CV but it isn’t yet in a fit state to win him a job.

He needs to think about why you write a CV.

At its most basic, it is a short list of facts about you and your work history, skills, qualifications and experience. A good CV is essential when looking for work and it is worth spending time getting it right so that it really sells you to an employer.

So what will an employer be looking for?

Well certainly your CV should:

  • Be neat, typed if possible, and to the best standard you can achieve in content and layout
  • Be short, 2 sides of a sheet of A4 paper is usually enough
  • Be positive, it should emphasise your achievements, strengths, successes, and
  • Make a good impression. This means presenting the facts about you in a positive way.

I hope you are going to

  • Send your CV with a covering letter or email asking companies if they have any current or future vacancies.
  • Send your CV when applying for advertised vacancies
  • Use your CV to help you remember all the dates and information you need each time you need to fill in an application form.
  • Use it to jog your memory when applying for jobs by phone – it can help if you are asked to give more information about previous jobs.
  • Have your CV with you while you’re waiting to be called in to an interview to help refresh your memory.

You can also leave a copy with the interviewer if they do not already have one!

Sometimes recruitment agencies ask to see your CV before you can register with them.

Your CV is a way of letting a potential employer know, just what value they will get if they employ you.

This should be you marketing the most valuable product you have – yourself!

So it is much more than just a list of roles.

For each role you include, you need to show how in that role you added value.  When you have done that you can then lay claim to the associated competencies.

For example, you led a team;

  • Why did they exist
  • Where did you lead them
  • What did they achieve as a result of your leadership?
  • What was your contribution and what hurdles did you have to overcome
  • What value was delivered?

So, what evidence does it provide that you can lay claim to the competence of leadership?

Remember STAR stores – for each element include your job title and how long you were employed in the role, then set out briefly;

  • Situation – Describe the situation/problem you were faced with
  • Task – what did you have to do?
  • Action – what action did you take and why.
  • Results – highlight the outcome and the value delivered

I’ll be doing more work over the next few days with Dave on his CV.

Meanwhile if there is advice you would like to give or questions you would like answered, please get in touch!

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 or 
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Writing your CV! Part 3 Pondering on CVs; language,confidentiality, competencies and referees!

Virtual Resume & Letter

This post is concerned with the particular issues faced by those moving between public and private sectors when completing their CV.

I’m going to comment on language, confidentiality, competencies and references.

Language

recent post here set out the reasons why public sector jargon needs to be avoided in CVs and job interviews.  Keep your language clear and simple.  When in doubt ask a non-public sector friend to read it and give you honest advice on clarity.

Confidentiality

Some public sector staff work in areas where the issues of confidentiality are real and significant.  But in all honesty most do not!  If you do, there will be clear guidance available.  You should consult your HR department about what you can say and how best to overcome the barriers to you getting a new role.

Most public sector staff do not work under the same restrictions.  The reality is that you can record on your CV the kind of work you have been doing.  Of course you should avoid information; under a security classification, relating to an individual member of the public or a fellow staff member, likely to embarrass the organisation or  Government Minister for which you have worked.

Most people will be able to describe their work in sufficient detail for a CV.  But see the comments made in the next section about how you do it.

Competencies

In my last post I included a list of skills and personal qualities (competencies) that employers are likely to look for. The list was by no means an exhaustive.

When you complete your employment history, try to show how your approach and your achievements demonstrate the competencies you quote.

For example, putting together a team and then driving through an initiative to improve the service to customers while reducing costs illustrates a number of competencies.  It can be understood quite easily by those outside the public sector.

Experience of project and programme management again can be understood outside the public sector and can be used to illustrate planning, organizing and delivering benefits when applying for roles in small to medium-sized organizations that do not have large projects for you to manage.

Those who have worked very close to Ministers managing legislation have had to use planning and organizing skills.  They are also likely to have demonstrated tact and discretion. If you have worked in difficult and sensitive areas  including policy discussions with Ministers (where influencing skills, relationship management, tact and discretion were needed, as well as the ability to be flexible and adaptable) this should be included but with discretion.

Think in terms of the competencies as you write descriptions of the work you have done.  Think in terms of organisations, tasks, problems solved and people influenced.  Describe the tasks you have completed in terms that others will understand and focus on what you delivered and how you delivered.

References

Some government departments will only offer bland references as your employer.  You will need their reference.   But it may only be a confirmation that you worked for them in a particular grade over a particular period of time.

Most large private sector employers know this – for others you may have to explain.  But you will need something more.  Try asking your line manager or someone in your management line if they would be prepared to give you a personal reference.   Also consider approaching retired senior colleagues and others who have left organisation.

It helps as well if you can provide a personal referee who holds a senior position in the private sector.  This is where people you have met during work in a voluntary capacity may be useful. Otherwise, consider people who you have met through clubs and associations.

You shouldn’t feel embarrassed about asking for a reference, most people feel flattered to be asked But you should always give people the opportunity to say no and make quite clear that you will understand if they feel they simply don’t know you well enough to help.

I would welcome your thoughts on all this and I am very happy to answer questions.

Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439
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Writing your CV! Part 3 Pondering on CVs; language,confidentiality, competencies and referees!

Virtual Resume & Letter

This post is concerned with the particular issues faced by those moving between public and private sectors when completing their CV.

I’m going to comment on language, confidentiality, competencies and references.

Language

recent post here set out the reasons why public sector jargon needs to be avoided in CVs and job interviews.  Keep your language clear and simple.  When in doubt ask a non-public sector friend to read it and give you honest advice on clarity.

Confidentiality

Some public sector staff work in areas where the issues of confidentiality are real and significant.  But in all honesty most do not!  If you do, there will be clear guidance available.  You should consult your HR department about what you can say and how best to overcome the barriers to you getting a new role.

Most public sector staff do not work under the same restrictions.  The reality is that you can record on your CV the kind of work you have been doing.  Of course you should avoid information; under a security classification, relating to an individual member of the public or a fellow staff member, likely to embarrass the organisation or  Government Minister for which you have worked.

Most people will be able to describe their work in sufficient detail for a CV.  But see the comments made in the next section about how you do it.

Competencies

In my last post I included a list of skills and personal qualities (competencies) that employers are likely to look for. The list was by no means an exhaustive.

When you complete your employment history, try to show how your approach and your achievements demonstrate the competencies you quote.

For example, putting together a team and then driving through an initiative to improve the service to customers while reducing costs illustrates a number of competencies.  It can be understood quite easily by those outside the public sector.

Experience of project and programme management again can be understood outside the public sector and can be used to illustrate planning, organizing and delivering benefits when applying for roles in small to medium-sized organizations that do not have large projects for you to manage.

Those who have worked very close to Ministers managing legislation have had to use planning and organizing skills.  They are also likely to have demonstrated tact and discretion. If you have worked in difficult and sensitive areas  including policy discussions with Ministers (where influencing skills, relationship management, tact and discretion were needed, as well as the ability to be flexible and adaptable) this should be included but with discretion.

Think in terms of the competencies as you write descriptions of the work you have done.  Think in terms of organisations, tasks, problems solved and people influenced.  Describe the tasks you have completed in terms that others will understand and focus on what you delivered and how you delivered.

References

Some government departments will only offer bland references as your employer.  You will need their reference.   But it may only be a confirmation that you worked for them in a particular grade over a particular period of time.

Most large private sector employers know this – for others you may have to explain.  But you will need something more.  Try asking your line manager or someone in your management line if they would be prepared to give you a personal reference.   Also consider approaching retired senior colleagues and others who have left organisation.

It helps as well if you can provide a personal referee who holds a senior position in the private sector.  This is where people you have met during work in a voluntary capacity may be useful. Otherwise, consider people who you have met through clubs and associations.

You shouldn’t feel embarrassed about asking for a reference, most people feel flattered to be asked But you should always give people the opportunity to say no and make quite clear that you will understand if they feel they simply don’t know you well enough to help.

I would welcome your thoughts on all this and I am very happy to answer questions.

Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439
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