Navigating Career Changes and Triumphs in the Home Office

Apr 02, 2024
hackajob Staff

Ready for career inspiration, straight from the frontlines of content design in government? Meet Emily, a Senior Content Designer who's navigated the transitions, challenges and triumphs of her career with confidence. 

From a beginning in social media to content design that impacts the nation, Emily's journey is a testament to resilience, adaptability and the power of seeking feedback. Let's dive into her world to learn what it's like to juggle high-profile projects, mentorship roles and user-focused content creation, all while thriving at the Home Office.




Meet Emily!

Emily, can you explain the role of a Senior Content Designer in more detail?

A Senior Content Designer leads the content strategies for major or high-visibility projects, and they're the gatekeepers of content quality. They might also lead teams or provide mentorship.

Your move from a social media background to a Content Designer role at the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), followed by the Home Office, is intriguing. Could you explain how this transition happened and why you chose to join the Home Office?

My career journey began as a content designer at Defra, my first job in this field. I had previously held a Senior Social Media Manager position there and had six years of government experience. Despite the different job titles, the level of responsibility was comparable.

When I transitioned careers, I was able to maintain my senior manager level but in the realm of content design. This was possible because I had developed transferable skills in my previous role at Government Digital Service (GDS), particularly around digital communication and data analysis. Both roles involved speaking to external audiences digitally and using data to inform strategies and improve content.

My background in communications was highly beneficial in this transition. In my previous role, I often created content for official government channels, negotiated partnerships and interviewed high-profile individuals, including ministers. This experience instilled in me a level of confidence, quick thinking and negotiation skills that are useful in content design.

Can you elaborate more on your career progression from Content Designer to Senior Content Designer, and how you navigated through promotion at the Home Office?

I took the move to seek promotion, to challenge my readiness for a senior role. Having had the interview for a Senior role, I walked away from the interview feeling disappointed with my performance.

However, I pulled myself together and asked for feedback. I discovered I had performed better than I thought. I was successful in the test and parts of the interview, but there were areas of weakness, like prototyping, a skill I hadn't picked up in my previous role. I sought training and taught myself to prototype, thanks to the help of experienced Interaction Designers. Equipped with this new skill, I reapplied for the role, and successfully landed the job!

What support did you receive from the Home Office throughout your career progression?

The Home Office was instrumental in my career progression. They acknowledged my need for prototyping experience and offered training, showing their readiness to invest in my growth. I appreciated their willingness to help. They placed me in a supportive team, providing dual layers of support from both a line and task manager – a testament to their commitment to employee development. I hit the ground running, but I know I can always turn to my senior colleagues for advice.

How has working in different departments like Government Digital Service (GDS), the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Justice shaped your career as a Content Designer?

My career was shaped by experiences across various departments. At GDS, I learned agile methodologies and connected with UCD professionals, which enhanced my resume.

My focus shifted to traditional communications and social media when I joined the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). One of my managers, who worked at MoJ Digital, integrated agile and UCD principles into our social media operations. This move was a stepping stone to my current role and highlighted the significance of user needs and data in our content design process. Now, as a Senior Content Designer, a large part of my role involves balancing business requests with user needs. This was greatly shaped by my past experiences.

Could you share some insights about your work on a high-profile project at the Home Office, and how you led the project as well as handled content design work?

As Content Designers, we often have to lead because our job needs us to understand and respond to user needs. The Home Office is a dynamic environment, which was evident in a recent high-profile project I completed.

The project involved redesigning a service in the Home Office's case working system to enhance its speed and data output. Collaborating closely with Interaction Designers, User Researchers, Business Analysts and Product owners, we developed a design that not only increased efficiency but also aligned better with our employees' work processes. The broader impact of this work will expedite the removal of foreign criminals from the country, thereby helping to alleviate prison overcrowding.

How do you balance the technical aspects of content design with the creative aspects of your role?

I’m naturally a creative person, and content design tends to be more technical, involving fact-based reasoning paired with user research and defined processes. But I enjoy and find a lot of success in adding a creative touch. I focus on language subtleties and how different words impact diverse audiences, using my background in writing for digital communications and my English Language and Literature degree.

Could you share some of your favourite benefits of working in the Home Office?

The Home Office provides great career opportunities.

I’ve noticed colleagues stay at the Home Office for a long time, showing it’s a great place for career development.  Here, the constant shift between projects allows for personal evolution, making the Home Office a launching pad for those ready to embrace opportunities. 

Ready to match with the Home Office? 

If you’d like to join the team at the Home Office, then create a profile on the hackajob platform, where they’re currently hiring for a variety of roles or log in to your profile here. You can also keep updated with them on their hackajob profile or the Home Office Careers website

Like what you've read or want more like this? Let us know! Email us here or DM us: Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram, we'd love to hear from you.