Retrospective – a look back at the EPSO process, part 3: Results and Recruitment

So here’s the final part of my EPSO blog; the process ultimately resulted in my recruitment to DG DIGIT in the European Commission, and the rest is history.

For the whole of July, I had been gingerly logging in to my EPSO account every single day, waiting for the little red flag to say that I had ‘1 new email’. Well, the end of July came and went, with no sign of the assessment centre results. Just as I was about to start harassing the EPSO team and inundating their inbox with emails of complaint, I logged in to my account on Monday early August and there it was.

Without a second’s hesitation, I clicked into it, like ripping off a plaster to get the pain over quickly; all I saw was the first line of the letter – “I am pleased to inform you…” and immediately shouted out “YEEEEEEES!!!!!” I had done it! I’d passed the assessment centre and got on to the reserve list!

My mind was a complete blank for the rest of the day; I felt dazed. I’d been preparing myself for bad news, trying to reassure myself that it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t get through, and resolved to start my preparations for the next round of competitions. I was so surprised that it was good news that I couldn’t quite process it.

The following day, once it had sunk in that I had succeeded, I decided to read through the detailed breakdown of my performance at the assessment centre, which is known as a ‘Competency Passport’.

The competencies measured were: Analysis and Resolution of Problems, Communication, Quality and Results, Learning and Development, Prioritisation and Organisation, Resilience and resistance to Stress and Working with Others. These are all marked out of 10, based on combined scores from the interview and the inbox exercise.

It’s worth pointing out at this point that the comments on the inbox exercise are generic and automated, based on the score you got. Therefore, in my opinion, the interview comments are more important because they genuinely describe what the panel thought of your answers.

Overall, I scored 74/100; this is made up of a score of 50/70 for the competencies and 24/30 for technical skills (drafting exercises). Pretty good, not perfect, but easily over the minimum requirements, which were 15/30 for technical skills and 40/70 for the competencies.

Although I felt very pleased with my scores and in particular the comments about my interview, I realised that effectively, the part of the process that I had the most control over was finished.

So, what would be the next step?

How would I go about finding vacancies, getting interviews and ultimately securing a job? Whilst there is a fair amount of information about the testing stages of this recruitment process, there is almost no information about what happens after that.

The letter from EPSO explained that the Competency Passport would be sent to the European Institutions, along with the details in the online application form, and that EPSO would send the reserve list to the European Institutions. The letter then referred candidates to the recruitment website at http://europa.eu/epso/success/expect/index_en.htm, so I had a look.

Apparently, it would seem that all there is for a candidate to do after getting on to a reserve is sit tight and wait, and keep checking their status on the reserve list via their EPSO account. There is a ‘flagging’ system which is all explained on the website, and this, in theory, is how institutions will notify candidates if they wish to call them for interview.

Yeah right.

As if, having got this far, I (or any of the other candidates) am going to be happy to just cross my fingers and wait for that magic ‘flag’ to appear. This whole process needs to be a lot more open, transparent and accessible.

I don’t have a strategy at this point, but I’m sure there must be something I could be doing to improve my chances, and when I find out what that is, I’ll share it!!

In theory, I have a year in which to get a job in the EU institutions, otherwise I have to start all over again! Having come this far, I’m not about to sit around and wait to see if I get ‘flagged’. Instead, I decided to consult a coach in Brussels, to see what advice she could give me.

I was told initially that my chances of finding a job were probably not that great. My education, experience and skills are way above the requirements for such a junior position (AST1), and as such, potential employers would be put off because they would feel that I would be frustrated in such a role and would want to move on quickly.

Whilst this is quite an accurate summary, because of course I am ambitious and I do want to seek a position with greater responsibility, I would actually be happy to start at a lower level to start to ‘find my feet’ and get some insight which would be valuable to me later on.

For me, getting a job in the EU would be more than just a new job; it represents a seismic shift in terms of my whole life. I would be leaving the place where I’ve lived for the last 12 years, leaving behind my family and friends, my house, finding a new place to live in Brussels and pretty much starting again. Having a highly demanding and stressful Administrator job on top of all that would be more than I could cope with!

My strategy, therefore, as my coach has advised, is to write a letter of motivation which lets potential employers know that I fulfil their requirements. I have highlighted the education and experience which is relevant to the AST role, leaving out a lot of knowledge and skills which would be ‘too much’ and might scare them off! She also helped me to outline my personal qualities in such as way as to bring out my practical, organisational focus and my reliable, responsible nature whilst playing down the focus on my own personal objectives.

The next step is to email this, along with my CV, to all personnel and HR departments. It does seem quite a laborious process, but is probably the best way of maximising the chances of finding a vacancy. It also feels a lot more ‘pro-active’ as opposed to waiting for EPSO to put a flag next to your name.

All I can do for the time being then is send out my letter and CV, and see what responses I get!

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