2 Identifying which employer is right for you
Clearly the different types of organisation that have been identified so far have different characteristics and operate in different ways. Understanding how big companies are different from SMEs, or how the private sector is different from the public sector, can be useful in helping you to think through where your own career goals might lie.
Characterising organisations in this way must be accompanied by a note of caution, however. Just because two organisations are both private sector does not mean that their values and way of operating will necessarily be the same. In the same way, two third sector organisations can be very different in their cultures and practices. Nevertheless, it is possible to draw out some distinctions as follows.
The public sector includes the civil service, the NHS, the armed and emergency services plus the majority of education, community and social services, and the BBC. More locally, it includes councils responsible for public housing, waste management, libraries, roads and traffic, planning, environmental health and consumer protection, and the arts and leisure. Not surprisingly, the culture tends to reflect the aim of providing services to the public and meeting national and local needs.
This consists of a variety of businesses and services across all areas of the economy that are generally run for profit. It ranges from sole traders through partnerships and small companies to large multinational corporations. Private sector organisations compete with other businesses to sell goods and services in order to generate profit, both for reinvestment and to provide a return to the owners or shareholders.
This is a growing area of the UK economy comprising non-governmental and non-profit-making organisations, including charities, voluntary and community groups, and cooperatives, mutuals and social enterprises These often operate in areas of social and health care, education and community justice. Their culture is similar to that of the public sector but, crucially, they are not funded from public money through taxes but rely on selling goods and services.
Activity 3 Advantages and disadvantages of different sectors
The following links will take you to resources which explore differences between working in different sectors of the economy:
- (Social Hire, 2021)
- Why you should work in the charity sector (The Guardian, 2019)
Bearing in mind the descriptions given above, identify what you think might be the advantages and disadvantages for you personally of working in each sector.
Do you feel particularly drawn to one area rather than another and, if so, why? Think about this for a minute or two and make some notes in your notebook or the Toolkit to reflect your thoughts.
This is obviously a very personal judgement and your responses will vary according to your personality, your interests and your outlook on life. The following table indicates some commonly held ideas about the differences between working in the public, private and third sectors; how you feel about them will be completely up to you.
Thinking through how you might feel working in each of the sectors will give you a better understanding of your preferences and will help you to decide which areas to focus on when researching different fields of employment.
In addition to the differences that have been identified in the broad characteristics of different types of organisation, there are also differences in the way in which they recruit employees. The next section will help you to understand how organisations in different sectors go about getting the staff they need.