So, you want my job? Head of corporate comms at Surrey Police

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Ruth Shulver's job as head of corporate comms at Surrey Police?

'Poo watch': It's an unpleasant task but somebody has to do it, writes Ruth Shulver at Surrey Police
'Poo watch': It's an unpleasant task but somebody has to do it, writes Ruth Shulver at Surrey Police

Name:
Ruth Shulver

Job:
Head of corporate communications, Surrey Police

Starting salary/salary band for the job?
£50,302 - £75,453

What qualifications do you need?
Degree or communication industry qualification.

What level of experience do you need?
It would be tough to do this role without significant communication and management experience, including having regularly worked and influenced board level or equivalent colleagues.

Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful?
I'd say useful but not necessary. It helps in having realism about the challenges of the role and being able to navigate around partnerships and processes more easily but I think it is perhaps more about personal outlook. There will be some amazing non-public sector communicators who could adapt.

What are the main day-to-day challenges?
Demand is ever increasing against budgets that are diminishing and this can mean it is frustrating not being able to achieve all you want to. Officers all think their pet project is the most important and don't always have a wider perspective of Force-wide priorities we're delivering, and public sector technology infrastructure means I sit looking at a computer that is "thinking about" rather than actually working a lot.

What is the best part of the job?
It sounds trite but it has to be you know you've made a difference every day in keeping the public safe. I don't think many communications roles are so operational. We are a key police tactic, from preventing an illegal rave by reaching out through targeted social media, to finding a vulnerable missing person or catching a criminal because someone saw your appeal. I also love that in Surrey our senior officers really value and trust us so we can be innovative and push the boundaries.

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job?
That there is a task officers have to do for some prisoners suspected of hiding drugs that has been nicknamed "poo watch", which involves a special toilet that automates what used to a "manual" job for officers. Even so it gets a special payment due to its unpleasant nature.

If you get an interview, do say?
(This is timely as we're currently recruiting) How your communications skills would help us keep Surrey safe and what you do to keep yourself abreast of industry developments. And show us your personality. I don’t want text book rent-a-quote.

If you get an interview, don't say?
I can only work nine-to-five. As the recent terrorist atrocities showed, on rare occasions it is all hands to the pump around the clock.

If you're good at this job you might also be well-suited to?
UN negotiator, animal herder – there is always someone running off in the wrong direction that you have to keep bringing back on course – Judge/lawyer – it's important to ask probing questions others won't always have thought of and tell people truths they don’t always want to hear, as part of the role is to challenge organisational group thinking and try to be the voice of the public in decision making.

Please note: Interviewees for 'So, you want my job' are not leaving their current role.


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