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Public workers not realistic about move to private sector

18th October 2010
With a predicted 600,000 public sector workers set to enter the job market, more must be done to ensure that the private sector has a clearer understanding of their skills and experience, and public sector workers need support to make the transition, according to research by Hays, the leading recruiting experts.

According to the survey of 1,435 employees and 348 employers, 85 per cent of candidates coming from the public sector are considering seeking work in the private sector, but need professional support if they are able to find work in what remains a very challenging environment.

Twenty two per cent of employees fear their public sector background will put them at a distinct disadvantage in the private sector. Their fears may be well-founded with forty six per cent of employers saying that previous private sector experience is very important when hiring, limiting the attractiveness of long-term ex-public sector workers. Over ninety per cent of employers go as far as to say that public sector experience is ‘not very important’ or ‘not important at all’ when hiring. This may come as a shock to the third of workers who believe their public sector background puts them at an advantage.

The vast majority (87 per cent) 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 per cent 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. Only 20 per cent are not planning to undertake this to help secure a new job.

Mark Staniland, Managing Director of Hays Career Transition Services, comments:
“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 per cent expect them to be both harder and more structured, and over 20 per cent report they need help with interview skills.

In addition, workers feel that salaries, benefits and career opportunities are better in the private sector, but see work-life balance as worse than the public sector. Employers say that career progression is more informal in the private sector, and that hours are longer. Over two-thirds of employers, however, feel benefits are actually worse in the private sector.

“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” concludes Staniland.

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About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is the leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments.

As at 30 June 2010, the Group employed 6,845 staff operating from 270 offices in 28 countries across 17 specialisms.

For the year ended 30 June 2010:
– the Group reported net fees of £557.7 million and operating profit of £80.5 million;
– the Group placed around 50,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 180,000 people into temporary assignments;
– 26% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific, 30% in Continental Europe & RoW and 44% in the United Kingdom & Ireland
– the temporary placement business represented 58% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 42% of net fees;
– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE and the United Kingdom.

For further press information please contact:
Magda Bulska, CHA
T. 020 7580 7025

Claire Fowler, Hays
T. 020 7259 8821