How ready are you for Career Progression in the Public Service ?

 Many people think they are ready for promotion because they have clocked in the hours.  And it’s true that you can’t beat experience. But when you add in other factors such as growth in skills and knowledge over time a different picture emerges. In Germany, for example, the word career implies something that is constantly growing, something that you are adding to.If you want to progress a good thing to work on is proactivity. If things aren’t happening in your career – what can you make happen to change the dynamic? The decision to do an extra qualification can be a game changer. Leading learning organisations such as the Institute of Public Administration or the Smurfit School of Business  confirm this. Willingness to invest in your future is the next big step.


What Public Service Interviewers really want….

How Hilary came first in their Public Service  Interview

She told me it had been a tough week’s interviewing.

“You wouldn’t believe it” she said “the one we gave the job to didn’t have the best form. He listened to us properly and answered the questions we asked. Amazingly, he  just knew when to stop. So we would ask a question like ‘had you ever managed staff?’ and the answer was no more than four or five focussed sentences. He kept it short. No rambling on for three of four minutes. He had obviously had  walked the walk.  So when we asked him to tell us about it – he just said what he had done. He definitely had done his preparation; he knew what the job entailed and gave us what we asked him.” Then I asked her: “What about the rest?”.

“They just wouldn’t stop talking- and they didn’t listen to us properly. That’s what made it tough for us.’

It struck me that Hilary had engaged properly with the Interview Board and made their day.

(Based on a real situation: April, 2021).  As told to me by one of my clients.

Dispelling some myths about Public Service Competency Interviews

As an interview coach I come across some myths about Public Service interviews. One is that you just go in there are and ensure you have the right buzzwords. It’s not a poetry recitation contest! Your interview professional,evidence-based, interactive and structured process.

Expected to be interrupted, cross-examined and questioned about your reasoning for doing what you did and what you learned about yourself.

Another myth is that you only need one example of any one competency. Public Service interviewers are trained to interview in depth to look for context. They know what they are looking for. Your job is to convince them with the benefits of your qualifications, skills, experience, results and motivation in action – in clear language including what you learned and how you applied that experience later on.

Our change-driven Public Service may be different from what you thought it was. It’s worth checking out the 2021 version so that you know what to expect.

You need to be Motivated in the Public Sector (and elsewhere)

If you want to be happy at work and progress you need to understand what motivates you. Motivation theory is not something abstract. This video has some very concrete ideas.

So,  if your needs for feedback, and recognition are not met on the job expect bad things to happen.

Most people who work in the Public Service and elsewhere are highly motivated; just look at what was achieved during Covid. But the other side is that many employees in most organisations are very poorly motivated.

Why? Because, if you are effective at your job, you may be taken for granted.

Inevitably, rust follows neglect.

However, you need to act as well.

If your career is in standstill these two minutes may change your life.

If you need help go to the Interviewing Zone or the Career Zone or call me.

Brian McIvor

What Public Service Recruiters don’t get enough of…..

…people who take time out to read the small print.

Any public service recruiter will tell you that the easiest way for them to accept or reject a job applicant – especially from the private sector is to see if they understand the job specification. Before you fill out any Public Service job application check the following:

Do you understand the job specifications?

Do you really understand what the competencies are , in detail?

Have you a clear picture of the exact type of work that is done in the Public Service?

In the Public Service you are judged by the standard of your work – and that includes the application form. Shirk that and you have blown the job!

Performing well in Public Service Interviews

There are increasing levels of interest in Public Service interviews these days. With the threat of uncertainty in the Private Sector you might be thinking about this. That is understandable.

Recruitment processes in the Public Service are different.

Public Service jobs attract large numbers of applicants. There are a number of filtering processes – including challenging aptitude tests. The interviews are very structured. You will need to study the material including Job Competencies  before you apply on-line.

Therefore you will need a good working understanding of what is involved in the work of public service bodies – and how the  parliamentary process works.

A public service job is not just another card on the job board. It’s a career for life – treat it like you would the Olympics.

Invest a lot of your time in any application. Let me help you – if you need a hand.

I know the system from inside and out –  having worked there. I have helped many enter the system and progress within it over the last 20 years.

Life After Covid

With vaccines on the way for all now might be a good time to start planning.

One of my great passions in life is music.  During lockdown I discovered that a prelude from a cello suite by J S Bach could be married to the most famous Ave Maria in the world . So I made an arrangement for voice and cello. I  asked two musicians, one of them my singing teacher, Katy Kelly and cellist Peadar O’Loinsigh to perform it for me – on video.

What I did was to re-imagine one musical piece by combining two others.  Musicians have been doing this since the dawn of time. Then it struck me that almost everyone had done this during Covid. People had re-imagined their lives without full human contact, and, in many cases, almost in total isolation. If we can re-imagine our present we can re-imagine our future. In some way, we all share the genius of the great composers and artists in the way we adapt to challenges in our life. Drawing of this amazing resource will bring us safely and happily into the future.

Our new post-covid future will be based on the achievements of our past and present.


Career Classic hits 50!

The 50th Anniversary Edition of What Colo(u)r is Your Parachtute 2021 has now appeared – with a new editor Katharine Brooks – following the death of author Richard Nelson Bolles a couple of years ago.

This is the book that changed and inspired so many – including myself. It is 25 years since I put down my deposit on the International Career and Life Planning Workshop in Bend, Oregon. It was through my interest in music and my ability to play the piano that I came to the the attention or Richard Nelson Bolles and got invited onto his staff.

Moral of the story: keep up the piano practice – you never know when it will come in useful. Don’t ignore your non-commercial  skills – they all come in useful someday!



Need a Career Re-Start after Covid?

A short introduction to Re-Imagination

Art shows the way by giving our senses freedom to recreate new things from old.

In my spare time I play and arrange classical music. I found a new way to do Gounod’s Ave Maria – but still using Bach’s music to accompany it.

Here is the result. It is an example of transferable skills in action.

Now if I can re-imagine my life………