Forget bowler hats and briefcases, the Civil Service has moved on from the days of Jim Hacker and Sir Humphrey Appleby in TV sitcom Yes Minister. The modern Civil Service is a vibrant and varied working environment, offering opportunities for employees from all walks of life.
We talk to staff working in different departments about the diverse jobs they undertake.
There has never been a better time to consider a career within the Civil Service with an enormous range of openings available across the UK.
The benefits of a career in the Civil Service include opportunities to make a difference, flexibility, annual and parental leave, pension and moving up the career ladder.
There are a diverse range of departments you could work in – from trade negotiations and policy development to climate change and digital data and technology.
‘Broad range of rewarding jobs’
Jennifer Raynor, Leeds, Deputy Director leading on Climate Change Adaptation, Natural Environment and COP26 legacy
Jennifer Raynor has worked in the Civil Service for 14 years, spending most of her career working in the Department for Transport.
She relocated from London to Leeds in August as part of the Civil Service Places for Growth programme. Jennifer is a member of the senior Civil Service and the deputy director leading on Climate Change Adaptation, the Natural Environment and COP26 legacy.
She also led the DfT team who delivered a highly-successful Transport Day at COP26 in Glasgow last year. Jennifer also spent time as a Private Secretary to two Ministers of State and has undertaken a number of COVID response roles. She is also a member of the DfT’s Gender Equality Network committee.
“I am passionate about improving diversity. I am the senior Civil Service champion for the DfT Leeds office,” she said.
Jennifer works from the DfT Leeds office in Wellington Place two to three days a week, with the rest of the time working from home. She also travels to the DfT London office one to two days a month to spend time with her team.
“I enjoy the flexibility this gives me in terms of building a professional network in Leeds, staying in touch with my London colleagues and spending time with my husband and dog,” she said.
For anyone wanting to follow in her footsteps, Jennifer said: “I would say go for it!
“There is such a broad range of interesting and rewarding jobs available in the Civil Service.
“As well as the “direct entry” route, there are other ways to get into the Civil Service including the fast stream, diversity internships and apprenticeships.
“You also don’t have to be based in London. The DfT has offices across the country as do many other departments.”
‘Give it a try – you won’t be disappointed’
Pru Orridge, 43, Cardiff, Customs Fraud Lead HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service and HMRC Race Network Lead
Having joined the HMRC as an administrative assistant in 2005, Pru Orridge is still there, due largely to “working with amazing and friendly people”.
She explained: “I only manage four people and we’re never going to be glamorous – there are no dawn raids or exciting seizures – our aim is for our team to use our knowledge to lead the FISto serious customs fraud.”
The Tanzania-born CivilServant continued: “I’ve really centred my attention on ensuring equality of opportunity for colleagues regardless of their ethnicity.
What we are doing is helping them with job applications, interviews, anything that will help them progress to the next
level. I’m very proud.”
Employment benefits are many. “We’ve got development programmes that teach you what you need to do and give you skills and opportunities. You have training – it’s helped me apply for the role I’ve got now.
“We’ve got flexibility – I work around looking after my nephews and nieces so I can support my family. And we can have paid time off when we’re sick. I’ve twice had a hip replacement and HMRC paid me when I needed it. All of this is peace of mind.”
Pru added: “I would definitely recommend people join. It’s an interesting and varied career with a decent reward package and excellent opportunities to progress in your career.
“You’ll be surprised if you join the Civil Service. For me there’s no regrets and no looking back. Give it a try – you won’t be disappointed.”
‘There is the opportunity to move into different professions’
Helen Mullan, Ballygowan, County Down, Business Representative Customer Strategy and Tax Design Directorate on HMRC Enterprise Tax Management Platform
Helen Mullan has worked in the Civil Service for 20 years starting as a front line manager for contact centre advisers dealing with the introduction of tax credits and quickly gained my promotion.
After nearly 14 years in operational management, Helen needed a change and won promotion delivering IT projects across the HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) and was also seconded to the Northern Ireland
Office as a senior policy adviser to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on EU Exit. She has recently moved into her new role as the business representative for the Customer Strategy and Tax Design directorate on Enterprise Tax Management Platform.
“The purpose of the platform is to streamline multiple IT systems for taxes into one enterprise level platform which will bring about efficiencies for the business and customer service improvements,” she said.
“This is an unusual and very specialised role – and I am learning something new every day.
“As my career to date hopefully shows, the Civil Service can be an incredibly rewarding place to work,” added Helen, who is married to bus driver Damian and mum to Grace, training to be a hairdresser.
“There is the opportunity to move into different professions and the plethora of jobs available mean that you can continue to grow and learn from each role. No two days are the same and the people I work with are fantastic.”
She currently works from home and is looking forward to going back to the office two days per week once COVID restrictions are lifted in Northern Ireland.
Great gains of apprenticeship
Leon Soyinka Sinden, 19, London, PR and Communications Apprenticeship
Having joined the Civil Service three months ago, Leon Soyinka Sinden “always wanted to work in government”.
He explained: “It seemed such an incredible opportunity. I never thought I’d get in –
I’d just give it a go – I decided to apply on a bit of a whim because I’d kick myself if I didn’t. And then it progressed and I got one interview after another and then eventually got the job.”
Working within Cabinet Office central communications, Leon operates within the community and engagement team for the central GCS team.
“I work on internal newsletters that go to all these communicators across different departments. I also help run the social media channels for the government communication service.
“And I am involved in a lot of ad hoc stuff as well. I help with admin, which means that I’m really involved with all the central stuff going on with my team.”
Leon gets paid a full time salary whilst spending 20 per cent of his time studying towards an apprenticeship.
“With the apprenticeship you get a bit of an understanding of all the different areas of communications so you’re really prepared to go into different areas. There are so many different career paths.
“Applications for the next cohort of GCS apprentices will be opening soon so keep an eye on the GCS website gcs. civilservice.gov.uk,” he advised.
“Before taking the apprenticeship I was worried about not making friends like you do in university.
However, I am part of a large cohort of apprentices and so have had lots of opportunities to socialise with them.”