Private Secretary, Department for Education at Civil Service Fast Stream

Job Title:
Private Secretary
Team/Area:
Department for Education
Years Experience:
0 - It’s an entry-level / graduate role
Average Rating:
7.6
3.8/5
Date of Review: 17th Jan 2012
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How would you describe your job in 2-3 lines?
My current role is as Private Secretary to a Junior Minister in the Department. I manage his office, advise on strategic policy issues and directly liaise with senior officials and key external stakeholders.
What do you actually do on a day-to-day basis?
As a Private Secretary my typical day involves:
- close contact with the Minister, facilitating his meetings and visits
- feeding back decisions to senior officials
- managing logisitical and policy crises
- close working with Press Office and speechwriters
- liaising with senior stakeholders e.g. Chief Exec of national charity
- careful handling of inter-Ministerial relationships
What are the main positives and negatives to your job?
Positives:
- high level of responsibility relative to grade
- access to Ministers, senior officials and senior stakeholders
- opportunity to influence policy development

Negatives:
- the civil service is a huge bureaucracy
- pay-scales are vastly inferior to the private sector
What qualifications and skills are needed to be great at this job?
Bachelors Degree

Good strategic thinking, attention to detail, personal skills and relationship building.
What advice would you give to candidates applying for a similar role at this company
The faststream application process involved:

Online tests
Short assessment centre
Full day assessment centre
Departmental selection

Visit the Fast Stream website for more details, the scheme is open to all.

The only real preparation you can do for the assessment process is to carefully think of examples of your experience against all of the competency areas outlined.
Salary Comments
I'd expect to be promoted soon after this rotation, when my salary should increase to around £40k
What hours do you actually work, on average? 8amto 7pm.
In Private Office, we have longer working hours than the rest of the Department.
With the benefit of hindsight, would you choose to do this job again?
Definitely
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