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How to improve your Civil Service Jobs search (using the cool new feature)

Updated: Nov 5

A few quick tips to help you find the jobs where you can have the most impact


Civil Service Jobs (CSJ) is the main way civil servants find new jobs. And while at IGC, we occasionally hear complaints about the website itself, it’s actually pretty great compared to many alternatives. And it just got a load better, especially if you care about working in particular policy areas.


As of this month, the CSJ website has a new feature that allows you to search jobs by job title, skill or keyword. So if, for example, you want to work in a particular policy area, you can now set up an alert that will let you know whenever there is a new job in that area. This new feature has inspired me to highlight a few other things that civil servants can do to ensure that they make best use of the CSJ website.


Think carefully about how you set up your job alerts

CSJ allows you to set up daily or weekly alerts for new jobs, based on filters you select. Setting up good job alert filters is a common piece of advice that we give during coaching. Key mistakes include:

  • Not setting up alerts at all - Civil Service jobs are usually only advertised for 2 weeks, and the application can take a while, especially if you get feedback on your application (strongly recommended). So need to know about new jobs as soon as possible.

  • Setting your filter too wide or too narrow - e.g. only setting your search to a few departments that you are really interested in. There are over 100 organisations on the website, are you sure that none of them have jobs that you’d be interested in applying for? Similarly, you want your alert to give you a list of jobs that you can quickly browse. Hundreds of jobs are added every day, so you do need to be selective.

  • Only setting up an alert when you're doing an active job search - keeping an eye on the job market can help you decide which skills to focus on in your current role. If you are thinking of going for promotion any time soon, you should include jobs from the grade you're hoping to move to long before you start to actively apply.

  • Not validating that your account belongs to a civil servant - our analysis of the CSJ jobs data has shown that almost half of jobs are only advertised to existing civil servants (and G6 and G7 jobs are particularly likely to only be advertised internally). Get access to these jobs by validating that you are a current civil servant on the “Account Details” page.


Keep a record of jobs that interest you, even if you don’t apply to them

An important part of planning your next career step is to develop a clear picture of the job market. One of the best ways to do this is to capture hard data on the jobs that you are interested in. How often do they come up? What skills, experience and behaviours are they asking for? What are the skill gaps you need to fill to maximise your chance when applying for them? We suggest you create a spreadsheet or document to record any interesting jobs that come up. Keep an active job alert and any time you see a job that you might want to apply for, put it into that document/sheet (even if you’re not actively looking to switch jobs). This can only take a few minutes a week and could vastly improve your understanding of your options.


Use the new keyword feature to find jobs in areas that matter to you

Now that CSJ allows you to search for jobs by keywords, you should experiment. Brainstorm words that could be relevant and set up an alert for each one. For example, if you want to find a job that allows you to help address climate change, you might want to search for “climate”, “net zero”, and “carbon”. Set up a search for each one of these (including your location, grade and profession filters). It doesn’t matter if these search results overlap, your job alert will only contain each job once. You might also want to set up skill based alerts (e.g. data scientist).


Remember to look elsewhere

Expressions of Interest (EOIs) are another common way civil servants move jobs. If you haven't already, find the place on your department's intranet where these are advertised, bookmark that page, and set a reminder to check it regularly.


The UK Civil Service offers huge opportunities for impact, but so do many other places. I don’t believe any civil servant should stop considering non-Civil Service roles, at least a little. If you are confident that the Civil Service is for you, then it makes sense to focus your search efforts there, but you can still give some time to look at other places. For example, here is a great list of social impact job boards to take a look at.


Take action now!

  1. Create an action in your to do list to experiment with setting up (better) job alerts! And once you’ve done that - set a time in a month or two to review whether you’ve got your filters right and correct if needed!

  2. Create an action to make a spreadsheet or document to keep a record of the jobs that you like the look of.

  3. Create an action to make a list of other places to look for jobs that you might be interested in (including your department’s EOI page)

And if any of this advice helps you land your next job, please let us know!


Side note: the IGC jobs app is now retired

At IGC, we had noticed the need for the keyword feature when searching for Civil Service jobs. This was why we built our jobs app; to help you search jobs by policy area. Now that you can do this search via the CSJ website itself our app is much less needed. We have therefore decided to stop supporting it.


We still think there is a need for more analysis of the Civil Service Jobs data. And we want to help you make data informed career decisions. We will therefore be publishing more analysis of this data, and what it says about career decisions in the Civil Service, in the coming months. (sign up to our mailing list to be informed when this is published)