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Operational Delivery

Private Secretary, Secretary of State – 52155
£54,274 – £63,500
London

Apply BACK TO SEARCH

We encourage applications from people from all backgrounds and aim to have a workforce that represents the wider society that we serve. We pride ourselves on being an employer of choice. We champion diversity, inclusion and wellbeing and aim to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and a sense of belonging. To find out more about how we do this visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice/about/equality-and-diversity.

Who we are

Inclusion and diversity

The Northern Ireland Office is committed to being an inclusive employer with a diverse workforce. We encourage applications from people from the widest possible diversity of backgrounds, cultures and experiences.

We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates, as they are under-represented within the NIO at this level.

The Northern Ireland Office strives to be an inclusive employer and is recognised by its staff and externally as being an employer where Diversity and Inclusion are valued.

We hold a Diversity & Inclusion Charter Mark and are an accredited Disability Confident Leader organisation.

In March 2018 we won the award for Best Employer for Diversity & Equality in Northern Ireland (small employer category) in a Gala Award ceremony hosted by Legal-Island, a multi-award winning workplace compliance company based in Northern Ireland.

We have an active D&I network supporting colleagues through D&I Advocates, championed by our Directors.

We want all our people to feel valued for who they are and we are confident that you will find the NIO a warm, welcoming and inclusive place to work.

What we do

Background

The Northern Ireland Office represents Northern Ireland interests at a UK Government level and UK Government interests in Northern Ireland.  We have a wide range of responsibilities, including: underpinning political stability in Northern Ireland; overseeing the Northern Ireland devolution settlement; leading on national security policy in Northern Ireland; addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past; delivering elections and constitutional reform in Northern Ireland; playing a key role in rebalancing the NI economy; representing NI interests, including on the border with Ireland, as the UK exits the EU.  Our small size and diverse portfolio create a stimulating, fast-paced and challenging working environment, with regular engagement with a range of Ministers and senior officials.  We support flexible working and have a modern, flexible IT system which helps enable this.

ABOUT THE ROLE:

This is a challenging and demanding but highly rewarding role. It offers a unique and exciting opportunity to operate at the very heart of the Northern Ireland Office, working closely with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ministers and senior officials. You will work alongside the Principal Private Secretary to deliver a highly effective and resilient Private Office operation, allowing you to gain an unrivalled insight into the workings of the Department, Whitehall and the Northern Ireland Executive.

The Private Secretary acts as a key link and channel of communication between Ministers and the Department, as well as managing relationships with wider Government. You will provide oversight around the submission of policy advice to Ministers to support their decision making, and advise on the presentation of their key objectives. You will use your judgement to identify issues that need to be brought to the attention of the Secretary of State and Ministers. You will be able to use your judgement to provide an effective challenge function to ministerial decision making.

You will have responsibility for line management of part of the Private office team overseeing the performance management of your team to ensure high standards of service.

You will work closely with Special Advisers and the Engagement team within the department, as well as with the press and communications colleagues to input into the public presentation of policy. Building effective external networks and relationships with other Ministerial Private Office teams in both Whitehall and Northern Ireland will be critical.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Smooth and efficient running of the Private Office team, working alongside the Principal Private Secretary, senior officials, and Special Advisers, delivering the highest quality support for the Secretary of State and Ministers.
  • Line management responsibility for a team of Private Office staff. Ensuring all staff are managed effectively, that they work as one team across the private office group, delivering a high level of service that Ministers and others expect, and supporting the delivery through Ministers of the Department’s wider priorities.
  • Ensuring that the Department has a clear understanding of Ministerial views, priorities and objectives, guiding officials in their preparation of briefing for Ministers on key policy issues.
  • Linking into the Private Office network across Whitehall and building partnerships with key external stakeholders. You will have the credibility to represent the views of the Secretary of State, Ministers and the Department credibly in these high level relationships.
  • Provide strategic oversight on the preparation of policy advice from across the Department that is being delivered to Ministers, ensuring that it meets wider departmental business objectives and takes account of key Ministerial priorities.

ESSENTIAL CRITERIA:

  • Exceptional interpersonal and management skills with the ability to understand different perspectives.
  • Proven experience of working effectively with Senior Officials; a strong ability to influence at all levels, and to work collaboratively to resolve difficult issues.
  • Sound judgement, understanding of the political nuances of working with constitutional/devolution issues.
  • Excellent organisational and prioritisation skills, with the ability to work effectively across a range of tasks and under pressure.
  • The ability to think strategically and creatively, recognising where improvements can be made and implementing them.

DESIRABLE CRITERIA:

  • An understanding of the Northern Ireland political system and how it works and an understanding of the work of the Northern Ireland Executive would be advantageous, but is not essential

BEHAVIOURS:

We will assess you against the following Success Profiles behaviours at Level 4 during the selection process.

  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Working Together
  • Delivering at Pace

More information on behaviours and success profiles can be found here.

The interview will be of a blended nature consisting of behaviours, experience and strength-based questions.  The strength-based questions will require natural responses from the candidates; responses that should be rapid, allowing the interviewer to hear a candidate’s first, unrehearsed and natural response, no longer than 2 minutes per question.

Please note that in the event of a large number of applications being received we may run the initial sift on the lead Behaviour “Communicating and Influencing”.

SECURITY CLEARANCE

Security clearance to SC level will be required for this post – subject to portfolios, the candidate may be required to undergo DV clearance.

ELIGIBILITY SIFT

An eligibility sift will be carried out on the basis of the information contained in the application form.  It is therefore important that all applicants demonstrate in their application how and to what extent their behaviours are relevant to the above criteria.  Those candidates who do not clearly demonstrate that they meet the experience and behaviours will not be invited to interview.

PAY AND ALLOWANCES

The successful candidate will adopt the terms and conditions of the NIO for the length of their appointment.

Neither Detached Duty terms nor relocation costs will apply to this post.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Further information about the post may be obtained from the Principal Private Secretary, MaryJo McKeever (maryjo.mckeever@nio.gov.uk).

APPLICATIONS

You can apply for this post through the Civil Service website at: civilservice.gov.uk.  Once logged onto the site go to the civil service jobs page and then search for jobs in the Northern Ireland Office where the application form can be found.

Additional information received after the closing date will not be considered.  Failure to provide sufficient information in support of an application prior to the closing date will not be considered as grounds for an appeal if an applicant is not shortlisted for interview.

Home Civil Service applicants who, because of disability, need assistance in completing the application form should contact MoJ Shared Services on 0845 010 3512.

All applications for employment are considered strictly on the basis of merit.

This job description should not be taken as constituting conditions of employment.

Please note that due to the high interest in NIO opportunities, feedback cannot be given if you are unsuccessful at sift stage. Feedback is available on request if unsuccessful following interview.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Further information about us

We are a small and friendly department of approximately 180 staff.  Due to our size we are able to offer staff more exposure to ministers and the opportunity to work on a far wider portfolio of responsibilities than might be the case in a larger department.  This creates an interesting, though often challenging, work environment.

Other Benefits

The NIO offers a pleasant, modern work environment which allows consideration of a range of flexible working arrangements which support a good work/ life balance. These include flexible/ alternative working patterns, part-time and job-share options

Benefits include:

                interest-free season ticket and bicycle loans

                Reward & Recognition scheme

Guaranteed Interview Scheme

The Northern Ireland Office operates the Guaranteed Interview Scheme, details of which are attached to the application form for this post.

In the event that we identify more appointable candidates than we currently have posts available, we will hold applicant details on a reserve list for a period of 12 months from which further appointments can be made. This may include roles at a lower grade. Candidates placed on a reserve list will be informed of this. Those candidates who do not wish to remain on the reserve list should contact MoJ-recruitment-vetting-enquiries@gov.sscl.com to be removed from the reserve list. 

Further information on civil service careers can be found at  www.civil-service-careers.gov.uk

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.  

Appointment to the Civil Service is governed by the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles. You have the right to complain if you feel a department has breached the requirement of the Recruitment Principles. 

Please contact SSCL (Moj-recruitment-vetting-enquiries@sscl.gse.gov.uk) in the first instance.

If you are not satisfied with the response, you may bring your complaint to the Commission. For further information on bringing a complaint to the Civil Service Commission please visit their web pages:

http://civilservicecommission.independent.gov.uk/civil-service-recruitment/complaints/

Additional Information

Working Arrangements & Further Information

The MoJ offers Hybrid Working arrangements where business need allows. This is an informal, non-contractual form of flexible working that blends working from your base location, different MoJ sites and / or from home (please be aware that this role can only be worked in the UK and not overseas). Some roles will not be suitable for Hybrid Working. Similarly, Hybrid Working will not suit everyone’s circumstances. Arrangements will be discussed and agreed with the successful candidate(s) and subject to regular review.

For nationally advertised roles, the successful candidate(s) will be appointed to a MoJ office location, which may include their nearest Justice Collaboration Centre or Justice Satellite Office. This will be discussed and agreed on the completion of pre-employment checks.

Some of MoJ’s terms and conditions of service are changing as part of Civil Service reform. The changes will apply to staff joining MoJ who are new to the Civil Service. Staff joining MoJ from other civil service employers will transfer onto the new MoJ terms if they are already on ‘modernised’ terms in their current post or onto ‘unmodernised’ MoJ terms if they are on ‘unmodernised’ terms at their current post. Details will be available if an offer is made.

Flexible working hours

The Ministry of Justice offers a flexible working system in many offices.

Benefits

The MoJ offers a range of benefits:

Annual Leave

Annual leave is 25 days on appointment and will increase to 30 days after five years’ service.

There is also a scheme to allow qualifying staff to buy or sell up to three days leave each year. Additional paid time off for public holidays and 1 privilege day. Leave for part-time and job share posts will be calculated on a pro-rata basis.

Pension

The Civil Service offers a choice of pension schemes, giving you the flexibility to choose the pension that suits you best.

Training

The Ministry of Justice is committed to staff development and offers an extensive range of training and development opportunities.

Networks

The opportunity to join employee-run networks that have been established to provide advice and support and to enable the views of employees from minority groups to be expressed direct to senior management. There are currently networks for employees of minority ethnic origin, employees with disabilities, employees with caring responsibilities, women employees, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

Support

  • A range of ‘Family Friendly’ policies such as opportunities to work reduced hours or job share.
  • Access to flexible benefits such as voluntary benefits, retail vouchers and discounts on a range of goods and services.
  • For moves to or from another employer or moves across the Civil Service this can have implications on your eligibility to carry on claiming childcare vouchers. You may however be eligible for alternative government childcare support schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. More information can be found on UKor Childcare Choices. You can determine your eligibility at https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.
  • Paid paternity, adoption and maternity leave.
  • Free annual sight tests for employees who use computer screens.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission’s recruitment principles. Should you feel that the recruitment process has breached the recruitment principles you are able to raise a formal complaint in the following order

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As a Disability Confident employer, MoJ are committed to providing everyone with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills, talent and abilities, by making adjustments throughout all elements of the recruitment process and in the workplace. MoJ are able to offer an interview to disabled candidates who meet the minimum selection criteria, except in a limited number of campaigns.

You will be able to request reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process within the application form. If you need additional help completing the application form, please contact the SSCL Recruitment Enquiries Team.

We encourage applications from people from all backgrounds and aim to have a workforce that represents the wider society that we serve. We pride ourselves on being an employer of choice. We champion diversity, inclusion and wellbeing and aim to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and a sense of belonging. To find out more about how we do this visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice/about/equality-and-diversity.