Brain food: How to get ahead in - The Civil Service

1. Graduates should apply to one of the Fast Stream schemes: General, GCHQ and Economist require a 2:2 degree; Statistician requires a 2:1.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

2. Selection is tough. Be prepared for a barrage of psychological questionnaires, 'e-tray exercises' and all-day assessments.

3. Once through, show a keenness to learn, an ability to deliver results, and strong interpersonal skills. Some ministers need delicate handling.

4. Be apolitical and discreet in your professional views. And don't leave your laptop or sensitive papers in the wine bar.

5. If you tire of the Meat Hygiene Service or the National Weights and Measures Lab, there's always Brussels (you'll need a second language).

6. Take control of your career needs. It's critical to gain experience of policy work, a Bill team, ministerial office and policy delivery.

7. Don't take promotion for granted. The days of Sir Humphrey and jobs for the boys are over. Good leadership, project and financial management skills are a prerequisite for those aiming at the top.

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