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Considering the civil service

  • 01-03-2023 9:52pm
    Registered Users Posts: 8

    Hi folks, I could use some advice.

    I need a career shift and I’m wondering whether the CC would be a potential idea, and how to get started.

    I’m in private industry, on 45k. Not enormous money but at this level or above I’ve found management to be nothing but stress, responsibilities that never end bleeding into evenings, weekends, holidays, constant existential panic at work over money, no work-life balance, constant crisis every day, pay NEVER goes up unless you jump job. It’s Sunday night dread every single day. I’ve become unable to focus on or enjoy my out of work hobbies, which is extremely detrimental. Been like this in a number of places I’ve been at and I am utterly, utterly done with the corporate mindset.

    I’d give a lot for a quiet, reliable, safe job. I’d consider taking a bit of a pay hit at least temporarily to achieve this.

    I know the CC is far from perfect, and of course has its stresses. But I've got friends who liked their jobs in it. Most of them say:

    -work stops when it stops. Generally 9-5, generally not weekends. 

    -occasional small pay rises, a pay structure that improves every year

    -WFT for at least part of the week (depends what you're doing obvs)

    The CO competitions seem, honestly, like they’d be too much of a pay cut for too long. The ones that pay better seem to require years of being a CO to apply. I’ve a good cv with lots of project management, a scientific background, people management, and tourism experience, and I’d consider from a range of county/city councils and other public bodies in the midlands (Dublin isn't really an option).

    What should I be applying to and what should I know?

    Post edited by Some Doods on


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,439 ✭✭✭caviardreams

    What you have described there sounds like management full stop - maybe management isn't for you? I have found management roles in the CS to be the same - it might be different depending on where you are based, but certainly if you are at AP level I would see there being a lot of stress and responsibility and late hours at times especially if there is legislation or political stuff going on in a lot of depts.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8 Some Doods

    Thanks Caviar. Yep, I know I dislike management alright. I greatly enjoyed and succeeded at jobs about one step down from management, usually something with Officer in the title.

    The problem is getting something like this that provides acceptable money!

  • Registered Users Posts: 238 ✭✭exitstageleft

    I don't think the civil service has to be boring. There's a lot of different roles and many of them are really interesting. You also get to work with a lot of committed people who want to do a good job for the wider public. I think the old view of stuffy civil servants set in their ways is dated.

    By the sounds of your experience, you should aim for an EO role with a view to moving on to HEO fairly quickly (~ 3 years).

    Keep an eye on for upcoming campaigns and more details of the roles. You might find a specialist campaign running that suits your skill set.

    And don't be afraid to apply for different roles at the same time. The campaigns all take ages but they are good learning experiences in and of themselves.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,069 ✭✭✭Augme

    An AP job is senior management, hence the starting salary is circa 72k. Executive officer is junior management, circa starts at 34k. So management can be very different depending on which grade you are. An EO role is generally 9-5 and never weekends, might be a few exceptions but generally it's a not too taxing.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,439 ✭✭✭caviardreams

    I hear you!

    I find what helps is trying to tweak what you do a little to make a bit more time for what you enjoy more in the job, and try and box off the other stuff a bit more and suit yourself about it if you can. It is still a headache, but try to think if you can get a bit more influence over some things - even if you could spend 10% more of your time on a nicer part and cut back 10% of your time on some of the more destructive/drining parts, it can help.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8 Some Doods

    Thanks, Stage Left. I didn't intend it, but on reflection that term might be a bit thoughtless so I took it out of the original post. I know from friends that it can be a varied and fulfilling life. I very much appreciate your advice there, some possibilities for sure. Do EO competitions always require already having done 2 years in the CS?

  • Registered Users Posts: 8 Some Doods

    That's a decent thing to do, yes indeed. Thanks!

  • Registered Users Posts: 8 Some Doods

    Thanks Augme, that's the sort of thing I have in mind ...

  • Registered Users Posts: 378 ✭✭Bicyclette

    Look at Administrative Officer vacancies. They start out at EO pay but go up to HEO pay. These are graduate jobs requiring specific skills sets and you have a good range of skills sets including customer facing experience.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,500 ✭✭✭runawaybishop

    Only the internal comps require that you are in an existing civil service role for 2 years, open competitions require no civil service experience.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 166 ✭✭apkmbarry

    Only internal competitions require two years service. So if you want to progress from CO to EO you can use that method, or say if you have a degree etc, you can come in right away at EO level.

    I'm currently awaiting placement for an Executive Officer (EO) role, with no prior CS experience. But the next competition won't open up until June 2024. My eligibilty was my Level 8 degree.

    I'm currently in the Administrative Officer (AO) competition too (alot more competitive), but those competitions only last a year, there'll be one towards the middle/end of this year. So long as you're a graduate, you're eligible for this role too.

    They both start off similar pay, but AO progresses to HEO pay levels and responsibilty as they're on the same level. So EO is junior management, with then having to interview for HEO, whereas AO starts as junior management and naturally progresses to HEO level.

    Any Q's you can fire away, I'm not the most knowledgable, but I myself wouldn't consider the CO role for it being low pay and probably not challenging enough for me. EO at least keeps a management aspect, even if it is only going to be minor.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,105 ✭✭✭el Fenomeno

    Sorry to hijack your post, but is there a "beginners guide" to how applying for the CS works?

    I was looking at some of the threads on here and all this talk of competitions, OOM etc. is a bit confusing.

    Wondering what the process is for someone in the private sector looking to make the jump - steps, timelines etc.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8 Some Doods

    Thanks, this is a great breakdown. I'm def in the situation where I'd like to break in a little later in my career and CO is too low pay to swallow.

    I've heard that AO roles basically don't exist outside of Dublin, any idea whether that's correct? For that matter, does ruling out Dublin vastly hurt changes of being selected for EO?

    Post edited by Some Doods on

  • Registered Users Posts: 120 ✭✭Chaos Black

    No - but many CS roles are based on Dublin as that is where the head department's tend to be based. Outside of Dublin, I think social welfare and revenue offices would be the most common.

    Re AO roles, just to clarify many AO jobs these days whilst advertised as middle management/graduate positions, the reality is in many departments AO and HEO are completely interchangeable now. AO's are just cheaper versions (early on) pay wise.

  • Registered Users Posts: 166 ✭✭apkmbarry

    No problem! Yeah I managed to get through no problem with no prior experience.

    Yeah I think AO recruits for Dublin, I never actually considered that.

    EO is recruited in every county, but like even CO's, it's all dependent on demand. If people aren't leaving, retiring or moving to different counties etc, then places just simply don't open up. They tend to not recruit extra people, their numbers are pretty consistent. From Sept - Dec last year, Dublin was the only county that moved. But now at this stage, there seems to be movement everywhere, obviously Dublins till dominates.