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Considering A Career Change? Apply Your Transferable Skills To The Public Sector

Considering A Career Change? Apply Your Transferable Skills To The Public Sector

4 months ago By Emily Harris
Apply Your Transferable Skills To The Public Sector

In January it was announced that the NSW state government had already exceeded a target of putting 1000 veterans into public sector jobs, well ahead of its completion date of 2022. The target was initially set in 2018 as part of the government’s veterans’ employment program; a program that facilitates the NSW Office for Veterans’ Affairs to work with public sector managers and veterans in order to understand how the skills and experience acquired within the defence force are highly compatible with the public service. Since 2018, the program has placed 1200 former service personnel in NSW government jobs[1] (Graham, 2022). 

Similarly in Victoria, the state government exceeded their target of putting 750 veterans in public sector roles between June 2017 and June 2021 (they were able to place 767 veterans in public sector roles) as part of their public sector veteran employment strategy[2] (Graham, 2021). Furthermore, Queensland also announced in 2021 that it was offering 300 free TAFE courses as well as mentorships to veterans looking for jobs in the state’s public service.

These programs highlight the number of transferrable skills that are well suited to government jobs. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) invests heavily in its servicemen and women, allowing them to develop a broad range of skills and experience – especially in relation to leadership and problem solving – two skills that are in strong demand and transfer readily to government roles. These skill sets help veterans to transition to post-military life and find fulfilling careers in a number of government agencies and departments as well as the police force, state-run correctional facilities and public infrastructure jobs. 

While those with a defence background develop a number of specialised skillsets, this is just one example of an industry that requires core skills that are also compatible with the public sector. These core skills are also known as transferable skills: the qualities, behaviours and attributes that are needed to succeed in any workplace no matter the industry and cannot be replaced or mimicked by technology[3] (Open Universities Australia, 2019). Transferable skills are especially important within government organisations, as the majority of roles will require collaboration with a number of different stakeholders and across different departments at the same time. Consequently, developing and possessing skills that can be applied to a number of tasks and roles can only make a candidate more attractive to prospective employers. 

We list some of the most relevant and in-demand transferable skills for government roles below:

Analytical Reasoning

Analytical skills are considered the traits and abilities that allow you to observe, research and interpret a subject in order to develop complex ideas and solutions[4] (Indeed, 2021). They play an important role within all levels of the workplace because they allow you to find solutions to common problems and make informed decisions about what actions to take next. While analytical thinking is nothing new, the importance it plays within the workforce has been highlighted during the pandemic. So many organisations across the globe have had to dramatically shift the way they operate due to covid restrictions; offices have had to figure out how to migrate their whole staff to working-from-home, restaurants have had to develop new ways to provide their services to customers and essential workers have had to determine how they could continue to work while remaining safe and socially distanced. Suddenly workers were faced with unprecedented hurdles and obstacles, which required a high level of analytical thinking and problem solving to successfully survive and endure this economic uncertainty. The Australian public sector was no different. As government agencies across Australia continue to navigate through these uncharted waters and look for new opportunities to grow, being able to confidently analyse and address problems is going to be increasingly important and valued by organisations.

Digital Literacy 

While different jobs will require different understandings of technology and experience in different software platforms, there is no denying the role technology plays within all workplaces is only expected to increase. Like a lot of sectors across Australia, the public sector is making a considerable effort to be on the right side of digital transformation. In this year’s federal budget it was announced that the Morrison Government would be investing almost $1.2 billion in Australia’s digital future through the Digital Economy Strategy. The strategy outlines policies and actions the government is taking to grow Australia’s future as a modern and leading digital economy by 2030, and aims to deliver better services with greater flexibility, more responsive policy, less red tape, all enhanced by digital technology[5] (Australian Government, 2021). These also include roles and sectors within government agencies. 

 Consequently, the greater a candidate’s digital literacy (defined as an individuals ability to find, evaluate, and clearly communicate information across multiple digital platforms) the more competitive they’ll present to public sector organisations. Being able to perform well in a digital world (confidently using email, understanding cloud software and video conferencing platforms etc) is highly relevant no matter what department or section of the public sector you work for.


Persuasion is the process of convincing someone else to carry out an action or agree with an idea and offer their support[6] (Indeed, 2021). Within a business context, leaders and hiring managers value individuals who can explain the “why”. Effectively selling or convincing colleagues of ‘why’ actions need to be taken, helps to create and sell products & services, recruit team members and ultimately increase productivity. Someone with strong persuasive skills can also encourage others to perform well and facilitate group-decision making. It’s also important to clarify the difference between persuasion and manipulation. While manipulation is a one-sided transaction where the individual only focuses on what’s good for them, persuasion aims to be mutually beneficial. Someone who is highly persuasive will be able to carefully consider the other person’s wants, needs, desires and goals and cater towards them to come to a win-win conclusion, which is highly desirable when dealing with negotiations with colleagues and an organisation’s key stakeholders.

Because the public sector revolves around so many different stakeholders (the greater community, private sector contractors etc.) being able to persuade and motivate others to support and get involved with the organisation in question, again is a highly desirable trait for many organisations- pandemic or not.


Within the workforce, and especially within the public sector, collaboration is a necessity and the Huffington Post agrees, claiming that collaborative environments are at the core of the modern workplace[7] (Mayhew, 2014). Collaboration is defined as a cooperative arrangement in which two or more parties work jointly towards a common goal; essentially when teamwork is taken to a higher level. It plays an important role in organisations because firstly, it’s a more productive way of completing tasks or goals as colleagues working together leads to an enhanced problem-solving process. Like the old adage ‘two heads are better than one’, when you have a collection of people coming together to solve a problem, each with their unique perspective, knowledge and experiences, it becomes much easier to find a resolution. Collaboration also allows workers to learn from each other and expand their knowledge, which benefits the organisation overall. Because collaboration is such an integral part of the way businesses operate, having the necessary skills that allow for working in a team and collaborating with others is paramount. Being able to showcase to organisations that you can communicate well with others, listen effectively and cooperate and share ideas, reveal your ability to effectively collaborate; is something that is a highly desirable trait for jobseekers.

Emotional Intelligence

According to Linkedin, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is arguably the ‘godfather’ of transferrable skills, encompassing many of the traits listed above[8] (Pate, 2020). EQ refers to your ability to notice your own emotions, and the emotions of others, and using them to manage and guide your thinking and behaviour. Professionals can rely on their EQ to deal with the variety of personalities and challenging situations they encounter at work and research has indicated that when employees take emotions into account, they make better decisions, communicate more diplomatically and resolve issues faster, regardless of who or what comes their way regardless of if they work in the public or private sector. For example, a study at PepsiCo found that company units headed by managers with well-developed EQ skills out-performed in their yearly revenue targets by 15-20%. Meanwhile, a study conducted by Norwich University found that when comparing managers considered ‘outstanding’ by their cohort with those considered ‘average’, 90% of the difference was accounted for by EQ[9] (Hppy, 2016).  

Given that so many have been through so much in the past few months, having emotional intelligence is worth its weight in gold – not just for managers, but staff at all levels. This belief has been corroborated by the online course ‘Developing Your Emotional Intelligence’ which during lockdown became one of Linkedin’s top 20 most popular online courses for the year[10] (Brodnitz, 2020).

Need further incentive to take the plunge and explore a career in the public sector? We list 5 key benefits that may sway your decision: 

1. You can make a difference in your community

When public services are done right, they can make a real impact on individuals and communities. These types of public roles are well suited for people who are motivated to make positive changes to benefit those around them.

 2. Improved work/life balance

Generally, the public sector allows for greater balance than the private industry due to employment awards and agreements that preserve shorter working hours. Overtime can also be accrued and paid back in flexible leave.

 3. Boost your resume

In terms of developing a rounded CV, getting experience in different sectors is a positive step. Many public sector jobs provide excellent opportunities to gain experience and build useful new skills. In a government job, there are frequently challenges and complexities that vary from those that you would see in the private sector.

 4. Staff training

Public sector organisations are committed to realising their staff's potential. Employees are often encouraged, if not required, to enhance their skill set by participating in training programmes, progressing their profession.

 5. Job Security

One of the biggest stressors for people working in the private sector is job security. Businesses in the private sector are always growing, changing, merging, and restructuring which can put a lot of stress on people who depend on their income to pay the bills. These kinds of concerns hardly exist in the public sector - the government won't go out of business like a private company could.

For those who feel they possess a number of relevant transferable skills and are interested in pursuing a career within the public sector, our team have a number of exciting opportunities available.

Click here to find out more!

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[1] Jackson, G. (2022). State’s Aim To Put Veterans In Public Sector Jobs ‘Exceeds Expectations’. The Mandarin. Retrieved from

[2] Jackson, G. (2021). Government Puts More Than 750 Veterans In Public Sector Jobs. The Mandarin. Retrieved from: 

[3] Open Universities Australia. (2019). 3 Reasons You’ll Need Human-Centric Skills For The Future. Open Universities. Retrieved from: 

[4] Indeed. (2021). Analytical Skills: Definitions and Examples. Indeed Career Guide. Retrieved from: 

[5] Australian Government. (2021). A Modern Digital Economy To Secure Australia’s Future. Retrieved fromfrom

[6] Indeed. (2021). Persuasion Skills: Definition and Examples. Indeed Career Guide. Retrieved from: 

[7] Mayhew. (2014). What Is Collaboration At Work? Huffpost. Retrieved from: 

[8] Pate. (2020). The Top Skills Companies Need Most In 2020 – And How To Learn Them. Linkedin Learning Blog. Retrieved from: 

[9] Hppy. (2016). Leadership In The Workplace: Why Emotional Intelligence Is Essential. Hppy. Retrieved from: 

[10] Brodnitz. (2020). The 20 Most Popular Linked Learning Courses Of The Year. Retrieved from: 

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