Expert Advice

Private versus public sector recruitment

B2B Editor14 October 2013

Private versus public sector recruitment

The private sector recruitment process is very different to that of the public sector. Key differences are that the cycle is shorter in the private sector and often only takes days to complete as compared with months in the public sector. Some private sector recruitment processes are also less formal.

Private sector hiring managers frequently look for candidates with commercial acumen, those willing and able to work with flexibility, and those with the ability to assess and understand the wider market in which a business entity operates. Candidates need to be able to explain and demonstrate through specific interview responses that they possess the competencies of efficiency, savings in time and/or money, opportunity identification and exploitation, and continual service improvement.

Transferrable skills common to, and between, both sectors include organisation, communication, management, training, attention to detail, influencing skills, customer service, negotiation and others. Candidates need to be able to confidently demonstrate to a hiring manager actual and potential contributions.

Culturally, the public sector is sometimes described by clients and candidates alike as highly structured and with rewards and payscales based on rank and tenure. The private sector is sometimes described as more dynamic and with rewards based on initiative and outcomes. These can be generalisations and there are exceptions within both sectors. Those who acknowledge these generalisations are better placed to understand the perceived and/or actual differences between sectors.

Payscale comparisons between the sectors are interesting. For entry level roles the public sector base pay and other benefits are often higher than private sector employers who sometimes reference award conditions. As candidates progress, and with technical skills attained, the mid-level role payscales can be more comparable. Once candidates reach executive appointments there are fewer private sector opportunities and in the public sector there are often bottlenecks as a number of candidates seek to move into executive bands. At this level payscales start to differ again. Within the private sector executive remuneration packages become highly negotiable. Couple these considerations with the observation that there are significant variations amongst increments within public sector agencies and it is impossible to make the universal statement that one sector is paid higher than then other.

PCA People provide specialist recruitment services across private, public and not-for-profit sectors and also for industry bodies and associations.

For more information contact PCA People on 02 6257 1010 or email [email protected]

Level 3, Canberra House, 40 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra City T: (02) 6257 1010 |