Civil Service Administrative Assistant/Officer

The Job and What's Involved

The Civil Service works with the government to formulate policies and deliver services. A Civil Service administrative assistant/officer is responsible for effectively providing these services and ensuring information is processed efficiently.

They are employed by and work on behalf of the government. There are numerous opportunities available, including jobs in consumer research and advice, finance, procurement and human resources (HR).

Administrative assistants/officers are involved in the wide variety of administrative tasks that help the Civil Service to run smoothly. The role can vary from department to department but may include:

  • Dealing with customers, including members of the public, and other departments, both directly and indirectly.
  • Organising events.
  • Operating computer systems.
  • Updating records.
  • Sending out correspondence both internally and externally.
  • Carrying out the administrative requests and requirements of senior staff.
  • Sending facsimiles and photocopying documentation.

A Civil Service administrative assistant/officer usually works 36 or 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday, and has around 25 days holiday a year.

The Civil Service has a flexitime working system in place. This allows staff to start early or finish late and build up holiday time. Some staff may be required to work shifts or overtime.

Part-time and job sharing posts are available (around 13 per cent of staff are part time). This includes term-time only roles. Most jobs are filled on a permanent basis. Weekend work is rarely required and would be classed as overtime.

This is an office-based role. The dress code can vary, but tends to be smart or smart-casual.

Civil Service administrative assistants/officers may start on around £15,000 a year. The Civil Service also offers a benefits package to its employees. This includes a pension scheme and, depending on where employees work, there may be sports and social facilities available or a subsidised canteen. Those based in London are paid at a higher rate.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Today's Civil Service is an increasingly streamlined, multi-million pound business. 500,000 people in about 170 different departments and agencies influence every aspect of life in Britain, aiming to deliver first-class services to the public. There are opportunities across all departments and agencies. Some have a higher staff turnover than others.

All jobs have a nationality requirement and are open to British nationals. Around 75 per cent of jobs are also open to Commonwealth citizens, nationals of the European Union and European Economic Area nationals.

Jobs are advertised in the local and national press, Connexions centres, Jobcentre Plus offices and on the Civil Service Recruitment site at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/civil-service/. The Civil Service does not accept speculative CVs.

Education and Training

Opportunities exist for school leavers. Each department or agency specifies its own entry requirements. There is a large emphasis placed on candidates to show competence in key areas such as teamwork, organisation and communication. Following the completion of a competency-based application form, successful candidates will be invited to a panel interview or assessment centre. Tests will vary but may include numerical and verbal reasoning.

Overall, applicants are expected to have at least five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent, including English. However, many candidates have two or more A levels/H grades, or equivalent, or a degree.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

The Civil Service is committed to training. This is likely to be a mixture of on-the-job training, distance learning and short courses. In some posts there may be the opportunity to study for nationally recognised qualifications.

Staff are encouraged to identify their own personal training requirements as part of an appraisal and development programme.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A Civil Service administrative assistant/officer needs:

  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Good literacy and numeracy skills.
  • To be a problem solver and able to use their initiative.
  • Good organisational skills and a methodical approach.
  • To be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines.
  • To be able to research and analyse information.
  • To be computer literate.

Your Long Term Prospects

There is a structured promotion system based on merit. Depending on the opportunities available, administrative assistants/officers may be able to move into junior management positions and other specialist posts, such as finance, IT and HR.

It is also possible to apply for positions in other Civil Service departments.

Get Further Information

Civil Service Recruitment
Website: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/civil-service

Website of the UK government (with links to Civil Service departments)
Website: www.direct.gov.uk

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