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Working For Your Local Council

Published: Thursday 9th April 2015

Could you see yourself working for your local council? It may not be as difficult to get into council jobs as you think. If you care about your local area and its people, you may already be a perfect candidate for a council job. As a Counsellor, you could be in a position to make your opinions heard and your ideas count. You could get involved to help challenge important issues such as transport, crime and education, rather than feeling helpless on the side lines. If this appeals to you, then a council job may be a perfect fit. 

How Does A Local Council Work?

If issues in your immediate local area are of particular concern to you, then you may wish to consider applying for council jobs in your town or parish. However, there are many different kinds of local council in England, such as district, borough, county and metropolitan, and they all have different roles. Each council is made up of democratically elected councillors who decide on policy and make decisions for the council area. With the exception of smaller town councils, they are usually quite large organisations, so there are many roles to choose from, such as within IT and HR. As well as this, you could choose a role within one of the sectors that the council is responsible for, such as education, social services, housing, waste collection, arts, community safety and even transport. The council’s role in these services is funded in part by council tax. 

house of parliment

However, if you are hoping to have a greater impact in your role, then you may wish to consider becoming a councillor so that you can work in partnership with other councils to do what you can to improve vital services such as health and education, and work in partnership with the police and neighbourhood watch schemes to improve public safety. 

What Does It Mean To Be A Councillor? 

A councillor must be elected to the council, and they must represent the area for which they are elected. As a councillor, you would be involved in decision-making and developing council policy. You would also have to review and scrutinise such policy with other councillors in order to make improvements and adjustments where needed. It can be rewarding work, but it can also be tiring. 

A lot of council jobs are similar to office jobs, in that you will still need to deal with letters, emails and phone calls on a daily basis. However, in this case, such contact will be coming from your constituents. You will also need to be ready to meet residents of the local area on appointed days so that you can discuss their problems and concerns, and it is not unheard of for councillors to take the time to visit their constituents in their homes. To truly enjoy working for the council, you will need to be ready to get stuck in. 

What Skills Does A Councillor Need? 

Perhaps the most important requirement for a councillor is that they truly reflect and represent the community they wish to serve. It is important to have experience of your local area so that you can make decisions about that area. However, for the role of councillor, your life skills are even more important than your education or qualifications. Simply being active in your local community and wishing to do more to help is viewed very positively. 

Attractive young smiling woman in smart casual wear holding digital tablet and looking at camera

If you wish to be a councillor, it is vital that you have good communication and interpersonal skills, as the job will require you to deal with people on a daily basis. It is also important for you to be confident with public speaking. You will need to be able to work well as part of a team, and understand how to resolve problems and confrontation in a diplomatic way. It is also important to have great organisation skills. Such skills you can acquire through life experience and qualifications in equal measure, so consider how you can prove that you already have these skills. 

Work Experience

If you already have experience of a certain niche, this can certainly be to your advantage. For example, teachers will already have an understanding of the needs of children, and care workers will have an understanding of the specific needs of older people and those with health problems. Consider the different services the council is responsible for and how your knowledge would enable you to improve those services when applying for council jobs. Most council job applications are available online and will require you to match yourself to the person specification and give clear examples of your ability to work for the council. Consider the role of the council and a councillor carefully before making an application so you can tailor it to the kind of role you want. 

For more job hunting hints and tips visit the Zoek blog or follow us on Twitter @Zoekappuk

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