Hi all. I am considering applying to the Civil Service and would like some insiders opinions/perspectives on things like job satisfaction, work environment etc. I have never worked outside the private sector and would be looking to join at Administrative Officer grade. Are you happy? What are your work mates like? What are the progression prospects? Also, what is going to happen with pay this year in response to inflation? All views, perspectives, and suggestions are appreciated.
I moved from private to CS 6 years ago and would recommend it, I have young family and working from home is hugely helpful there, the stability is nice and workload is manageable. When you start it is a steep curve to get head round the culture and ways of doing things and there's plenty of scope for moving/ education/ promotion if you wish to do so.
I've worked in 3 different Dept, the first was a crisis dept and was heavy going, as in any place there are good/difficult people, doers and not so doers! Next dept was ok but glad to move to where I am now, tis a bit busier and focused so prefer that. I find the closer you are to the money dept wise the less BS! Best of luck in the application if you go ahead
just to add to the above comment. I have left a central Department due to a bullying issue. There is very little support. If your manager takes a dislike to you there is little if anything you can do but leave. In one particular unit 5 staff members have left over the last few years. There are no metrics or targets like in the private sector. It is very much what your manager says goes. I have a recording of the bullying and written evidence and when I played it to my friend who is an expert in HR he told me to leave asap. The union said the same. HR in the department do nothing so it would have been years at the WRC (at which I couldn’t use the recording for example nor would lower grades realistically stand up against management). I’m one of many that just left. It was a lot of CS BS as I like to call it: Civil Service Bull ****! Making up lies behind my back; not clearing things and then blaming me. There is so much of that in the CS. My manager came from a department particularly known for such bullying and I could see enjoyed destroying people eventhough he often showed up late for meetings with stakeholders etc. It is very toxic. I know someone in the private sector working with targets and getting bonuses and pay rises easily. If you are a good worker I have seen people advance in the private sector much quicker. That and the pay just doesn’t compare. So my advice is to Avoid the CS!
However, if you manage to get a Senior management job it is amazing as most come in late (i.e. no clocking) and have little accountability. Most just approve work and send up the line. Its a joke on the tax payer I couldn’t do it but if u have kids etc I would see it as a nice cushy job.
Moved from private to CS a few years back at AP and now PO. It's great, you get to have a significant influence on the future of the Country and whilst you might get pelters from a lot of people from the outside, most I know are hard working and have the interests of the country at heart. It's great.
I have to take issue with the post above for a few reasons. Firstly, if you are subject to bullying there are procedures in place to deal with it and if your line manager won't deal, then take it to HR or to another manager. I'm sorry you've had that experience but a) it's not my experience or those that I know and b) the private sector can be way worse, with some industries in particular standing out (try a graduate role at the big 4 or a corporate law firm), you may not even make it through promotion.
Secondly, the point about senior managers is very wide of the mark, maybe in your department but I've worked in a couple now and there is a complete reversal of how it works in the private sector in that the work has to roll up the hill because everyone else is on the clock. Every AP and PO I know in my current and previous Department puts in a serious shift and often work well beyond their contracted hours. The rewards are in the work, in my view anyway. Obviously, departments can differ but I feel the post above needs some balance.
I’m not saying all Civil Servants are bad (I was one myself) but there are a few who give the lot a bad name and I wish there were proper supports to put those bad guys in their place. I’m talking about smart bullying, covering his tracks, slandering my work etc. All lies. What I have been through is sickening and I would be more than happy to speak to a journalist about it with the evidence I have. It is a central department. For me, as I was a junior staff member there was no checks and balances. HR senior management did not want to get involved and the Department is known for having a poor HR. The staff turnover rate is very high but people don’t call out bullying these days and leave by other means such as career break. As I said, I d love to be a people manager in the CS. I doubt Assistant Secretaries threaten to withhold your increment for no reason. I’m just sharing my experience as we easily paint the CS with a golden paintbrush when in fact they should be challenged by the public. Much greater transparency is needed overall.
It's a very difficult question to answer because you aren't applying for a traditional organisation that will have one location and one culture. Every Department will be different and even within that styles and cultures between divisons can be quite different. You'll hear some great stories about the CS and some horrible and you'll have no control over where you end up.
This. I don't know anything about the AO position. I only personally know people at CO/EO level down the country. It's either a cushy number with no stress that they love (and have time after work to do other things - family, training, farm, small business) or it's hell and they become depressed and bitter and go the sick to get out as often as possible or it ages them in front of your eyes from the stress. All dependant on the department and as mentioned in the quoted post the lack of control over appointments and transfers is a major issue. I know for a fact that some of these who love it would quickly loathe it if they were put into a different role - just very lucky they got an easier number. It's unfortunate that aptitude and education/experience aren't used for assigning roles though I understand why too. This won't apply to you but I know someone who left a job as a call centre manager on 45K only to get put on the phones in revenue debt collection for 23K. They lasted a few months. Had they been off the phones I think they would have made a career out of it as they're now doing very, very well in a multinational.
Progression seems much easier in Dublin and very difficult down the country. Anyone who wants to get ahead would have to move which is usually not a financial option for those settled down the country. I suspect you may be in Dublin already though?
My relative had a bullying issue that went the way Avenger2020 describes. No support, the skip siding with the bully and doing stuff like whispering to one another while eyeballing my relative. They went on the sick, then took the shorter working year and then went out on a career break. They were assigned to an office in the next town over after the career break which was much better and they're happy out now with the job. I will add this is not the norm and this was a rural office where the youngest person was mid 30s so it would be a different atmosphere than the one a new AO in Dublin would be entering.
IMO it depends on your work ethic. If you are happy to coast along and go with the flow you'll be grand. If you put yourself out there as a hard & diligent worker, you will get even more work/pressure to preform. As was said to me, if you want something done, give it to the busiest person. For me the biggest pro & con is not holding people accountable. I've yet to meet someone who's got fired from the CS which is why some people think they are on the pigs back when they get in. They forget the same applies to their colleagues so no matter how work shy or bullying they are, your stuck with it. I find it very demoralising but that's just me.
I've worked in a dept which was high pressure but dealt with every dept in the country.
Glad to be out of where I was but I've dealt with a few people who were on the verge of being fired. Mainly those on probation who took the piss thinking they didn't need to do any work in the CS.
The dept I'm in now is public facing but my location is a nice spot compared to other departments I've been in
would you recommend it for someone in the public sector to take a pay cut and apply for the current CO campaign..doesn’t seem to be any other been run atm..thanks
I took a significant pay cut when joining as a CO and for me it paid off, the working from home, flexi and opportunity for promotion were big drivers in my circumstances but my experience stood to me and was promoted on next EO comp but just be mindful these can take approx 2 yrs to come around and no guarantee. I was CO for about 1.5 yrs but saved alot on my commute by WFH so eased the sting.
Thanks @Watermelonsugar is WFH across every department? This would be a huge advantage
It depends on the job. If its a public facing role, no.
Being able to build up 1.5 days Flexi a month makes up for it
Thanks yes it does
I would recommend the move. Lots of different roles, departments in the service. My partner is in civil service last 10 years, did a lot of blended working during covid, still working from home 3-4 days a week. Great family life balance saves us for childcare for our little one too.