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AO now or HEO later?

  • 14-06-2022 1:29pm
    Registered Users Posts: 4

    Hi, I have been offered a role at AO level in a regional area (which suits me) but I dunno if I should accept it or wait and chance my luck in the HEO (current CS), looking for peoples opinions on this, the main reason is the salary difference esp in the first few years


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    AO a better gig for experience and progression, generally, if you dont need the money now and back yourself to be ready for AP in a few years then all other things being equal I tend to recommend the former.

    if one offer suits better location, role or dept wise and you arent prioritising progression, HEO is still a fine option of course, and many HEO roles these days allow for plenty of development too.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,763 ✭✭✭Aglomerado

    Depending on the Department, a HEO can end up doing work traditionally allocated to AO (or vice versa). All of my predecessors in my current role were AOs and I am a HEO, and I am not alone in this! A few of my HEO colleagues have also progressed to AP recently.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4 HarryRocks

    Thank you for your responses, I am finding it difficult to make a decision. Money is definitely a major factor for me at the minute, and I would have to be on AO Point 7/9 before I would even be at the HEO starting pay, which seems along way of. I believe the role will be more or less the same as a HEO in the same Dept. Is it true that AO’s are looked on more favourably when applying for AP? I have been told this was once the case but does it remain to be?

  • Registered Users Posts: 498 ✭✭C4000

    If you have a straight choice between HEO and AO, I'd go for HEO all day long. The starting salary is considerably higher.

    Our Department has just had an internal competition for promotion to AP. The majority of successful candidates were HEOs and there was a discussion at senior management level about the fact that many AOs that applied didn't get through the shortlisting process due to lack of experience etc. It's definitely not a disadvantage to be a HEO when applying for AP.

    In our dept there's very little difference in the roles that the majority of HEOs and AOs are assigned to. AOs probably less likely to get some roles that involve managing large numbers of staff, but they are mostly interchangeable.

  • Registered Users Posts: 121 ✭✭Chaos Black

    If offered AO and HEO is only a future maybe, I would take what is on the table now. You don't know when next HEO comp will be and if you will be succesful.

    In terms of experience, I think both are interchangeable these days. AOs can be yellow pack HEOs. I assume that would be the same in regional areas.

    I would say in Dublin, that a new AO is more likely to be assigned to a Central Department and they I think (my 2 cents) get promoted faster to AP as you gain good policy experience, exposure to political system and work closer with Senior Management due to top heavy nature of those Departments. The name of the Central Departments does not hurt either when interviewing with PAS.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4 HarryRocks

    Thanks C4000 and Chaos Black for this and yes it is a case as you say of possible HEO but if I was successful within lets say 4yrs financially I would still be better off then than taking the AO now? I know turning down AO is a risk but given the substantial salary difference I really want to feel I have made the right decision, does anyone have any other thoughts?

  • Registered Users Posts: 109 ✭✭Butterfly182

    I'm in a similar position, I'm in the Civil Service as an EO on 40K salary approx. I believe I will go to 44K salary approx. I am under consideration for a position as an AO and I intend to take it although I passed stage 1 of the Indep HEO competition because the AO role is certain and I don't think I'll be at a huge disadvantage salary wise. I'm afraid of a new recession and want to move up before it happens. My only fear is that they will start me on the beginning of the AO scale which as you know is low at 30K and have to get my salary adjusted but hopefully that doesn't happen.

  • Registered Users Posts: 280 ✭✭BhoyRayzor

    If you are going from EO then there is the bump up to plus one increment and also skipping points 4 and 8, if not done already, on the AO scale. Getting a successful placement from a future HEO comp could could be at least 2/3 years best case scenario and at that stage there may not be much difference between point 1 and being on point 5/6 on the AO scale. There is also the extra money, holidays and experience gained in those years.

  • Registered Users Posts: 34 Doughnutholer

    Having held both jobs, I recommend taking the AO. Firstly It's a certainty. Secondly, there are grounds to move from AO to to HEO via secondment (with the pay, I believe). Most of all, you're in a better position for AP in 2-4 years.

    Post edited by Doughnutholer on

  • Registered Users Posts: 4 HarryRocks

    Thank you all for the replies, re secondment - the opportunity for secondment in regional locations are very few so I wouldn't place as much weight on that.

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