Grow your career in the public sector

By The Mandarin

Monday August 1, 2016

The phrase career planning in cut out magazine letters pinned to a cork notice board

The public sector is the biggest employer in Australia, but as an individual it can be difficult to navigate a career path in a sector that is rapidly changing and where qualifications and relevant experience may not be enough to secure a role.

According to Kate Boorer, who is facilitating the NSW Institute of Public Administration’s upcoming Drive Your Career Conference and Mentor Program, the sector on the one had offers a world of career opportunities but on the other hand being able to secure them can seem like a dark art.

“We will examine how an individual, once in a department or agency, can progress with purpose and take advantage of secondments, acting in positions, applying for contracts,” she said.

The Conference on August 10 has an optional 12-week Mentoring Program, which includes weekly tutorials, live webinars, access to individual power coaching sessions, peer coaching sessions, mentor circles and invite only networking events.

“They’ve both been positively received since they were first run in 2011. Attendees are shown ways to take advantage of the seeming maze of levels, acting in positions, applying for positions, leap-frogging from one contract to the next.

“It’s easy for people in the public sector to feel overwhelmed about their career as there is often a lot of unknowns. This is true, but it is the responsibility of the individual to make the most of their opportunities, develop resilience and productive working relationships.

“Often people have the mindset that ‘If I work hard I will work up in to senior positions,’ but this is not the case; you need to articulate what skills you want to develop, as people in your network can’t help you unless they know this,” Kate said.

Seeking out mentors and building a network is an important way to be open to opportunities, says Kate. When an individual develops a proactive and high-performance mindset, it also improves an organisation’s effectiveness.

The size of the sector and the NSW Capability Framework often make it perceptually challenging too, she says.

“The Framework is not an obstacle, it means that skills are now much more transferable and that creates a stack of opportunities for people to diversify their skill set and experience.

“The actual application process and having to tailor your resume to the focus capabilities of a role can be overwhelming but once you understand the Framework and its benefits, it’s actually quite an empowering thing.

“With a lot of contracts and uncertainty, in can be difficult to navigate career paths, but it’s important to position yourself to take advantage of the opportunities that the sector provides,” Kate said.

Kathy Baker, director of leadership and values at NSW Public Service Commission will be the keynote speaker at the Drive Your Career conference. IPAA NSW has a business case and conference outcomes linked to the NSW Capability Framework.

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