These 'Top 10 Tips' were written by Claire Barrie, a HR Professional working for a Local Council. Helping to explain how to apply, interview and hopefully get the job, plus the differences to other sectors.
1. Read the particulars carefully
2. Use examples when demonstrating your suitability
3. Do not send a CV
4. Research the organistation
5. Take time to complete your application
6. Interview etiquette
7. Unsuccessful candidates
8. Successful candidates
9. Common misconceptions
10. Pay and grading within councils
Read the particulars carefully, it explains how to complete the application form and what we are looking for when we shortlist. Look carefully at the person specification as this is the criteria that your application form will be measured against and you need to demonstrate that you meet all of the requirements in order to secure an interview.
Demonstrate your suitability to the job you are applying for, using examples. If the person specification is asking for an ability to work in a team for example, do not put - I can work in a team, you need to demonstrate it, for example: I am competent working in a team and I believe the key to working in a team is communication and the sharing of a mutual goal. I enjoy working as part of a team and am always conscious to help and support the other members of the team. If I have any spare capacity I will always offer to help out in order to ensure that the team is working as efficiently as possible....
Do not send in a CV - either as a form of application relating to a specific vacancy or as a speculative measure. All jobs are advertised in order to ensure equal opportunity to any potential candidates, in line with equal opportunities an application form must be completed therefore the same information / detail is asked of all candidates. Sending a CV in when you haven't seen a specific vacancy advertised will nearly always end in disappointment.
Research the organisation and their goals and objectives. Also make sure you have a basic knowledge of any local/Council initiatives and/or jargon relating to the post you are applying for, this will come across in the interview and will definitely work in your favour.
Remember that your application form is the basis for the organisation's first impression of you - it needs to be neat and tidy with no spelling errors. Make it obvious that you spent time and effort completing your application form.
If you do get an interview, arrive on time and dress smartly. It gives a good impression to the interview panel and shows you are reliable and professional.
If you attend an interview and are then informed you have been unsuccessful - always ask for feedback. Feedback will be constructive and will help you to improve on any areas of weakness in time for your next interview.
If you are successful and are offered a position - do not hand in your notice on your current job until you have a formal offer in writing. Councils in particular put their potential employees through a series of clearances including pre employment health assessments, asylum and immigration, 2 references and where necessary CRB clearance and such like. If any of these clearances are not obtained or are found to be unsatisfactory, the offer of employment can be withdrawn.
It is a common misconception that Council vacancies are advertised when the Council already have someone in mind for the post. Although internal transfers and promotions do happen, the recruitment and selection process is fair and consistent and can be put under rigorous scrutiny to ensure that the best candidate for the job is appointed, regardless of whether they are an internal candidate or not.
It is important to appreciate the pay grading structure that operates within local government / public sector. Jobs are graded and appointments are usually made on the bottom of the grade unless there are exceptional circumstances to warrant a higher starting salary. Therefore you should expect that you will be appointed on the bottom of the grade, should your salary expectations / requirements be much higher than the bottom of the grade you may want to re-consider your application, and this will avoid wasting both your time and that of the organisation.