Discrimination against public sector experience

I am an HR professional with six years’ public sector HR experience.

I previously worked as a line manager for five years in a variety of commercial sectors.

The discrimination I have had from prospective employers/agencies – because of my six years in the public sector – has been appalling.

This has varied from a sharp intake of breath when an agency calls me to talk about a role, to questions like “are you absolutely sure you are interested in this position, as it is not in the public sector?” I have also been told: “Well, the agency thinks you have some sort of valid experience, but does not want to submit your details as you are in the public sector” and: “Well, it was really hard to convince them to interview you as you are in the public sector, but I eventually persuaded them to do so”.

And so it goes on.

I find this behaviour offensive. Just because I work in the public sector does not mean I am not adaptable to working in other sectors. Life in the NHS for an HR practitioner these days is extremely challenging: harsh decisions are being made about service provision and we have numerous employee relations issues to deal with.

I am still persisting in applying for jobs in the private sector and do have several opportunities at present. However, it would be nice not to have to get over this hurdle and it would be great if agencies could focus on marketing their candidates and looking at competency-based questions as opposed to making discriminatory judgements before the candidate has even got past the door.


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