Private to public: transfer your skills

2019-03-12T08:17:02+00:00

Switching career gears can be invigorating. Moving from the private sector to the public sector can be a rewarding change for many. But what is the best way to make the transition?

The experts at face2face Recruitment—from our Business Support and ICT teams—share their advice on switching from private to government.

Think through whether the public sector is for you

‘You need the right reason for wanting to move from private to public. If you only want a government position because you believe you’ll make more money, work less hours and have no hassle, then think again,’ says Kate Prior, Managing Director of face2face. ‘Gaining a deeper understanding of how government works or wanting to make change for Australians are great reasons.’

The team at face2face says you need the right mentality and positioning to succeed. Think about your values and if they fit with the public service values, which articulate expectations with performance and standards (Australian Public Service values are here). If applying for a position in the Commonwealth, also consider the APS Employment Principles. And, of course, work through other items such as money, training and work/life balance.

Decide where best you can apply your skills

The public sector is highly diverse with enormous opportunities for virtually any skill set—across all three levels, federal, state/territory or local. The APS, for example, has more than 75 departments and agencies covering arts, defence, education, environment, foreign affairs, agriculture, transport and more. Explore the online presence of departments to inspire some thinking.

Be ready for some stiff competition

Competition for coveted public sector positions is fierce with applicants often applying along with hundreds of others nationally. Government recruitment is merit based (Section 10A, Public Service Act 1999).

Work with a recruiter who has extensive government experience

Experienced recruitment agencies know the ropes and can:

  • help you get your resume ‘public sector ready’—highlighting your transferable skills by converting them from ‘private sector speak’ to ‘government speak’
  • explain essentials like security clearances
  • define public sector terminology and levels.

* Non-ongoing means you’ll be employed directly by the government department for a set period and will accrue annual leave and sick leave. This is one of the easiest ways to potentially secure a permanent position down the track.

face2face has more than 14 years’ experience working with the public sector across all sectors and at all levels, from APS 2 to EL 2 positions. We’ve won positions on 10 government panels opening up opportunities across the country to more than 50 government organisations.

Highlight your transferable skills in your resume and on LinkedIn

This is a common problem in resumes with private sector applicants just assuming that public sector employers will just ‘get it’. They won’t. Remember, too, that you only have 45 seconds to impress. Public sector employers want to scan your resume and immediately see the right key attributes. They want to know how your skills will contribute in a meaningful way. Your resume should therefore highlight:

  • the extent and nature of your experience
  • situations in which you’ve worked
  • results you’ve achieved

Tailor your resume for each role. A generic resume is a great base, but if you want to crack the code, you need to match your skills specifically to the government role you’re applying for. Examples of private sector versus government speak:

Private                                       Government

Reception duties                           Front of house

Filing                                                Records management

Scheduling appointments            Diary management

Extremely organised                     Excellent time management

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