Secondments, a recommendation


Luiza Kettlewell | Project Coordinator, University of York.

I have recently been successful in a Project Coordinator secondment for a period of nine months. As with most secondments, this was advertised internally, and so the other candidates were colleagues of mine. In this case, the people interviewing were senior colleagues who I often worked with, and I was actually on the other side of the interview table with one of them earlier in the same week!

This required a lot of professionalism for all parties involved. I was careful when discussing my potential application to other colleagues (read: competition), and getting the right level of formality across in the interview itself. I made sure that I read the role description thoroughly, and focussed my application & interview preparation on the details listed, not what I had maybe heard on the grapevine,
or what I thought the job might be.

I still remember my first internal interview for a position that I was unsuccessful for, and I was able to learn a lot from that experience. It is important not to assume the panel know the detail of any work you’ve done before, and to be clear and thorough with any examples given. However, it can still be difficult to sell yourself to people that you’ve worked with before, and will likely work with again. I believe that in an internal interview, those asking the questions will be finding everything just as awkward as the person being interviewed, and so by sticking to the facts, and treating it like any other interview, the process will run much more smoothly. If you give it your best shot, regardless of outcome, then you can hold your head up high when you work with members of the panel again.

The Project Coordinator role will be my second secondment, so I am well aware of the journey from initial happiness of being successful in an interview, to the excitement of moving to a new position, to an eventual fear of returning to the job that I came from. What if I’ve forgotten everything? What if the person covering me did a way better job?

Thankfully, once that secondment was nearing its completion, I was successful in securing the position permanently. This was another internal candidate process, with internal interviewers, but I had learnt from past mistakes, and was able to prove that I was the right person for the job.

As I embark on my next secondment, I feel much more prepared about what to expect. I will make sure that my Standard Operational Procedures are up to date, that I document what areas of work have been handed over to who, and that I keep in touch with my current team, This will ensure an easy transition for the person covering for me, and for an easy return for me back to the role.

Secondments are an excellent opportunity to build on skills and knowledge that you wouldn’t necessarily get out of your existing role, and I strongly recommend them.

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