How to succeed in public sector housing roles

6 mins

Succeeding in a public sector housing career requires the right combination of tenacity, hard work, communication skills and long-term planning. By focusing on the right aspects of your CV, you can give yourself the best possible start in this dynamic field.

Housing services is one of the most varied and unique professions within the public sector. This fast-moving and constantly evolving line of work provides an engaging and dynamic challenge for committed professionals, and offers an opportunity to work in a field that delivers genuine value in people’s lives.

However, the unique elements of public sector housing work can also make it somewhat daunting for those looking to enter the field for the first time. Even those with relevant private sector experience will often find that public sector housing work requires them to learn quickly, and get to grips with the specific requirements and rhythms that this work involves.

In order to give candidates the best possible chance of succeeding in public sector housing, we will provide advice on what employers in this sector are looking for in the ideal candidate, and offer guidance on how to start a public sector housing career on the right footing.

What are public sector housing employers looking for?

One of the most important aspects to remember about public sector housing services is the highly specific rules, regulations and timetables that govern the sector. The fact that so many vulnerable populations rely on public housing, as well as the constantly shifting regulatory landscape, means that employers need to be able to rely on a capable and flexible workforce.

Here are some of the most important attributes that can help you succeed in public sector housing:

Up-to-date training and qualifications

Having the right training and qualifications in place is important for any role, but this is particularly the case for public housing, where regulations are always changing and candidates will be expected to keep up with the latest developments.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and the changing right-to-buy legislation are all examples of events that have led to significant shifts in the regulatory landscape in recent years, and this means that even a gap of a couple years in your training history could mean you are behind on important developments. As such, if you work in this sector, you will need to make sure you are regularly attending conferences and keeping up-to-date on the latest training modules, as well as staying on top of the latest industry news.

Additionally, the fast-moving nature of the sector means that simply having past experience on your CV will not necessarily be enough to win over an employer. You will need to show evidence of how this experience translated into transferable skills, or be able to demonstrate NVQ or chartership status to prove your qualities as a candidate.

Good timekeeping

Social housing work tends to operate according to strict timescales, as a result of employers having service-level agreements in place with other providers, as well as the overarching need to provide a responsive and highly organised service for people in need. As such, good timekeeping and organisational skills are essential for candidates in this field.

This may mean that those coming to public sector housing from the private sector may not experience the same level of flexibility as in their previous role, and may require a cultural adjustment to fit into a more demanding schedule.

Strong communication skills

Working in the social housing sector will require you to become part of a wider network of providers and operators, constantly sharing information between team members and external partners to ensure a smooth and seamless service for all.

As such, candidates for these roles will need to be team players who are comfortable working collaboratively as part of a wider group, and possess the communication skills necessary to ensure the smooth running of the organisation.

Tenacity and perseverance

The working culture of public sector housing is unique in many respects, and if you are joining the sector from another professional background, there will inevitably be an adjustment period as you get accustomed to the specific organisational structure of council and housing association work.

Candidates will therefore need to have patience, tenacity and perseverance as they get to grips with their new working patterns and regulatory framework, because the professional rewards for doing so can be significant.

Advice for starting your public sector housing career

If you are just getting started in public sector housing, there are a number of steps you can take to give yourself the best possible chance of getting your application noticed, and setting yourself on the path to long-term professional success:

  • Consider your career goals - before applying for any roles, you should think about what you actually want out of your public housing career. What are your long-term goals? What are you looking for in terms of holidays and pension plans? Have you compared the progression structure of different organisations to look at how you want to develop your career? Setting out longer-term targets and a five-year plan will help to give you a steer on what kind of initial roles to look for.

  • Research your local organisations - finding out as much as possible about your local housing organisations will give you important insights into how they work and what their partnership structures are like. This will aid your understanding of the role, and will also help you to demonstrate your attention to detail.

  • Speak to a recruiter - working alongside a specialist housing or property services recruiter to review your CV can be a crucial step in realistically assessing your skill set and deciding on a sensible career path. It can also help you to decide which specialism is right for you, whether this be social housing, housing management, housing needs or another discipline.

  • Put yourself forward for a volunteer or apprenticeship role - there are plenty of opportunities available in public sector housing to gain experience as a volunteer or apprentice. This will be a great move for your CV, and will allow you to learn more first-hand about what it is like to work with these organisations, experiencing their daily challenges and schedules, as well as getting insights into the relevant legislation, EDI standards and interview processes.

  • Be patient and open-minded - as mentioned above, perseverance is a key quality necessary for success in this sector. There are plenty of opportunities available, and by working with your recruiter, you will be able to tailor your application approach over time and find an ideal starter role.
Find out more

For more advice on how to succeed in public sector housing roles and how to start your career on the best possible footing, get in touch with the specialist recruiters at Sellick Partnership.

Visit our Housing & Property Services recruitment hub to browse our latest roles, or learn more from our expert team.