How I got my job as a Senior Policy Advisor within the British GovernmentFeatured

I started my current position as a Senior Policy Advisor within the British Government around seven months ago. I support cultural and creative industries abroad - including start-ups, fintech, SMEs, and digital accelerators.My job hunting strategy for this role was to look for policy roles within the Central Government as a whole and ensure I covered all of the key requirements and demonstrated the core competencies of the role. I majored in Korean and History of Art/Archaeology for my Bachelors and then completed a Masters in Conflict, Rights and Justice focusing on gender violence in the Balkan region. I first became interested in working in policy because I felt I could support my local community better. This is especially true in the wake of the fire at Grenfell. I grew up in the local area of Grenfell, and saw how policy has had an active role in our society. Another driving force behind my desire to work in government and policy was the diversity of people, as it is not a requirement to have a background in politics or policy to work in public service. Within my department, I have colleagues from all backgrounds, including tech, digital, and creative fields. Read everything you can get your hands on.My job hunting process was to cast a wide net and open my eyes to opportunities that I hadn’t known about. This approach was partially influenced by my sheer desperation to leave the position I held before, but I also knew that there are a lot of opportunities out there in places I wasn’t familiar with. I sought to look for inspiration outside the job specification and my own background in terms of talking points, background research and also seeing the bigger picture. For example, I used resources from NGOs, general statistics in impact from local organisations and resources from research institutions.I applied to 500 posts across policy and tech roles and heard back from under half of them. To be honest, in my hurry to leave my previous position, I had applied to jobs that weren’t actually right for me. For the post I am currently in, I went through two interview rounds: the first one was a general ‘sweep’ online and the second round of in-person interviews. I found the in-person interview itself was engaging and very much in my comfort zone as I met with people who would be my colleagues. Nevertheless, the questions were all competency based, like seeing the bigger picture and working at pace, and the whole process took over three months. The core lesson for the job hunt process is that whatever your background or degree is, it is only relevant to a certain point. So search as widely as possible.Recognise your limits, make them your strengths, and find your tribe.I wanted a role that’s supportive to my mental health, and my present role has the flexibility to work remotely, and I typically do this one day a week. Other factors that were important and core to this decision, was the work-life balance, the overall culture within the organisation and the importance placed on Learning and Development. All of these are very important to me and align with my core values.I was surprised with the power I had for negotiation, I wasn’t used to having power in a job negotiation before. For the job, I have had to really self-reflect on my skill set and what I know I can do with relative ease and difficulty.As a woman in middle-management, I had felt uncomfortable in this negotiation situation and at times overly apologised. At times I felt hesitant due to not wanting to cause too much disruption. Addition, I would often be overly critical of myself, as I was unsure if I deserve a seat at the table or to be offered this position. All of this, I know, is untrue and is more my anxiety talking. Ultimately finding my tribe made all the difference to the issues I faced during the job hunting process, and let me know if you have any questions!Jess a senior political adviser, digital/creative strategist, and brand expert focused on female empowerment. She has experience working developing and building international partnerships under the lens of government, NGO, and private firms. She is passionate about smashing the glass ceiling and founded the Growth & Grace Collective, which is a women-led global network to support, empower and engage like-minded females in fields of business, tech, policy and law. She works with small organisations pro-bono and is an avid writer.
whitneycaneel's profile thumbnail
Hey Jessica!Really enjoyed reading this, thanks for sharing your experience!"The core lesson for the job hunt process is that whatever your background or degree is, it is only relevant to a certain point. So search as widely as possible." This is SO true and something I often bring up to people that are on the job hunt. Don't limit yourself in the process because your dream job could be hidden under a title you never expected. Also, re: over apologizing this is something I've become more aware of in the last few years as well. And something I've worked to eliminate from my dialogues. I've noticed that more women tend to do this than men; a great reminder to check ourselves and stop aologizing for things where it isn't necessary at all. Thanks again for sharing!
Zahra's profile thumbnail
Thanks for writing this! I'm finding it so difficult to find jobs that intersect policy with tech so this was a nice read for what i'm currently going through
sheenam7's profile thumbnail
Loved this, Jessica! This is gold: "Recognise your limits, make them your strengths, and find your tribe"😍
kuan's profile thumbnail
Thank you, Jess for writing for us! We'd love to feature more stories on best practices of your discipline, how to get better at what you do, trends in your industry and more, told by Elpha members. DM me if you're interested in writing a feature story for us.
renitanangoh's profile thumbnail
Hey Jessica. Enjoyed reading this. I really found the part about being overly apologetic in job negotiations relatable In the culture/society i live in. You can be seen as ungrateful and rude for trying to set fair terms for yourself whether or not your skills and experience deserve it especially with the high unemployment rates and not so subtle disdain for the 'lazy generation'