· 2 min read · News

Private sector needs to keep an open mind about skills of job candidates from public sector


With a predicted 600,000 public-sector workers set to enter the job market, more must be done to ensure the private sector has a clearer understanding of their skills and experience - and public-sector workers need more support to make the transition.

According to the survey of 1,435 employees and 348 employers by recruiter Hays, 85% of candidates coming from the public sector are considering seeking work in the private sector.

But 22% of employees fear their public-sector background will put them at a distinct disadvantage in the private sector and 46% of employers claim previous private-sector experience is very important when hiring, limiting the attractiveness of long-term ex-public-sector workers.

Over 90% of employers go as far as to say that public-sector experience is ‘not very important’ or ‘not important at all’ when hiring – but a third of workers still believe their public-sector background puts them at an advantage.

Almost nine out of 10 (90%) of private-sector employers believe candidates from the public sector need to better identify and convey their skills to potential employers. They say candidates lack sufficient market insight and are unrealistic about the differences between the two sectors. They also struggle to accurately assess candidates coming from the public sector, with over half reporting difficulties in identifying potential employees because of different job titles.

Public-sector employers will play a critical role in supporting those people they make redundant so they can make the transition into the private sector. While 60% of staff believe a move to the private sector will enhance their career progression, they are also expecting to have to improve before finding the right job, with over two thirds looking to develop new skills or gain qualifications. A fifth (20%) are not planning to undertake this to help secure a new job.

Mark Staniland, managing director of Hays Career Transition Services, said: "With the impending Comprehensive Spending Review, many public-sector workers face an uncertain future. To make themselves attractive to the private sector, candidates must understand how their skills and experience are relevant and useful to potential employers, be ready to prove they understand the markets and companies they apply for and be capable of demonstrating how they can add value. It is inevitable that workers will need to be supported in this move, with practical advice and support so they are better placed to find a new role. We are working with the London Chamber of Commerce to develop our findings and provide support which bridges the gap between the public and private sectors." 

Job candidates attending interviews in the private sector expect them to be similar to those in the public sector, but 29% expect them to be both harder and more structured, and over 20% report they need help with interview skills.

Staniland added: "There is a lot of stereotyping about working life in both sectors, which both sides will have to overcome. Having a clear idea about your career goals, understanding your skills and how you can add value to a prospective employer are always essential in a job search, but it is even more critical that you can convey them in the current climate and when making the transition from the public to the private sector."