LSJ speaks with government solicitors who have skin in the game about their tips for surviving and thriving in the public service.
While government employees are expected to uphold the Australian Public Service (APS) values of being “committed to service, ethical and accountable”, career progression in such a dynamic workplace can become confusing and overwhelming. Here’s a round-up of the best advice for working in the APS we could muster:
- Think ahead to your next contract
If your work contract is up for renewal, use it to your advantage by being open to new learning opportunities. This can include developing your soft skills, like for example actively nurturing your peers, or working towards tangible qualifications. Think about completing a Specialist Accreditation Program in Public law or other post-graduate programs like the Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA).
- Find a good mentor
Seek out successful individuals in the APS whose achievements you admire. Engage with them about the challenges they have faced and ask how they overcame them. Another great tip is top observe how successful people approach their work, operate under pressure and complete key tasks and projects.
- Make a sideways move
At some point in a public servant’s career, they may want to make a sideways step into another government department. The APS lawyers we spoke to recommend developing and maintaining a network of like-minded colleagues who can share insights about work in another unit and what it’s like. Seek to understand how counterparts in other agencies excel and deliver the best possible legal services and talk about the unique challenges they face dealing with their clients.
- Promote a culture of consultation
Working with different government departments or ministers comes with its own unique set of challenges. When consulting with various heads, highlight the importance of providing early, authentic and timely opportunities for all stakeholders to give input regarding proposed change. Find ways to support and promote initiatives that improve the quality of early consultative opportunities.