essential skills

The Big 4: Essential skills for success in the public service

Are you looking for a career in the public service? If so, you are probably wondering what skills you will need to give yourself the best chance of success.

According to Grad Connection,  The Mandarin  and Hays The following skills are considered crucial in many public service roles whether it be working in a government department, a teacher, a nurse or a council employee.  These are all transferable skills, which are also useful in many private sector positions.


The importance of teamwork in the public service can’t be understated. Whatever area of the public service you work in, you will often be required to work with people from other departments or organisations. Teamwork allows those with different skillsets to share their expertise with each other, which can lead to improved outcomes. For example, doctors, nurses and specialists are often required to discuss the treatment plan for their patients. To be an effective team player, you must build positive mutually beneficial relationships with those around you.

Communication skills

Communication skills are among the most important for many public service roles.

In many public service positions, you will be required to write reports or present content and be able converse with stakeholders effectively. For example, a teacher will need to write reports for students but also attend parent teacher interviews.

No matter the message you are delivering, knowing your audience is critical.

You also need to ensure you are attentive to colleagues’ and clients’ needs.

Strong interpersonal skills are crucial as they allow you to build positive relationships with colleagues and clients.

Analytical & critical thinking

Public servants will often be required to make decisions under pressure and navigate complex issues.  Public Servants are also often required to interpret information that comes in front of them. For example, political polling or a new medical diagnosis. In many positions, the ability to problem solve will be critical. How would you respond when things don’t go as you planned, or an unexpected issue arises?  In such situations, you will be expected to make the best decision possible in the circumstances.  When issues arise, you will need to solve them in the best way possible.

Adaptability and flexibility

While not always an easy skill to master, responding to change as it occurs is crucial. In many government roles, circumstances can change rapidly. For instance, new regulations could come in, or budgets could be cut. Some public servants, such as government staffers, must respond to changing political circumstances. Therefore, responding to changes as they occur is a desirable skill for most public service employees.  

Public Servants will also often be asked to work on multiple projects at once. Therefore, prioritising which tasks are most important and managing your time effectively is an essential skill for those seeking to work in the public service.


If you need help selling your skills, Public Service Resumes can help. No matter which area of the public service you are interested in, we are pleased to offer a range of services including Career Development Coaching  and Interview Skills Coaching