How did you first hear about jobs in housing?
I was looking for a job in web management and registered with a recruitment agency that specialised in that area. At the time there was a job available for a Web Editor in the Housings Executive's Information Department.
Before that I hadn't considered working in a housing environment and was unaware of the opportunities.
How did you find further information about a career in housing?
I looked at the website and read general information about the organisation. I also spoke to a Housing Executive Information Officer who provided me useful advice and guidance.
What was it that appealed to you when you were thinking about a job in housing?
I have a genuine interest in the aims of the Housing Executive and feel that they provide a range of valuable services.
I also saw that there was a lot of scope for development of the website and to provide additional functionality and improved usability, accessibility, graphics and content.
The Housing Executive also offered job security and excellent pension and benefits. It offered flexible working and the opportunity to progress and develop my skills. It's also a very positive working environment - I like the people I work with and my manager is very supportive of my personal development.
How did you get your first job in housing?
I started on a 12 week temporary contract as a web editor but it was then decided that a permanent position of Web Manager would be needed. I applied for this post and was successful. After 9 months I took over the management of the Visual Communication team which comprises three graphic designers, a photographer, a film maker and a web editor.
What personal skills and qualifications did you have that helped you secure your first job in housing?
The job I applied for was a specialist role involving a high level of technical understanding, creative input and writing skills. My previous jobs had given me the necessary experience to do this effectively.
On a more personal level my teaching experience has been very useful in communicating new skills and working methods to the design department. I am generally a good communicator which has been helpful when researching, developing and presenting ideas about the website to staff at all levels. I am a creative thinker which is helpful as a large part of my job involves identifying ways to engage visitors to our site and develop applications which offer value to users and departments alike.
What skills & training have you gained since you have had your job in housing?
I am about to embark on the Meridian Leadership course which is sponsored by the Housing Executive. This course is designed to develop management leadership skills and a greater understanding of public sector procedures.
Describe a typical day?
I run a weekly production meeting where I discuss new jobs with the designers and identify any problems in ongoing projects. I meet with clients to discuss new projects and to help them develop communication plans for the most creative and cost effective outcome. The website is constantly monitored for accurate content and links to other sites.
When a new print project comes in we have to format the information correctly, get the in-house photographer to provide us with new imagery if necessary and then the designer will project manage the job; developing design concepts, laying out text and images and managing the print job. I'm really lucky to have a very talented team who are really enthusiastic about their work. We recently installed a new Mac network to allow us all to collaborate on projects so I think we are entering a new and very exciting phase in the department.
I do spend a bit more time in meetings than I would like, but it's a necessary evil. There's a lot more procedural detail in the public sector than in the private sector, particularly around procurement, which can slow projects down a lot but overall I think that working in a creative job in the public sector actually offers you more opportunity and fulfilment than working in a design agency as you can spend a bit more time on the design concept and making sure the message is right. It's a very fast paced job - I easily work as hard as I did in the private sector and the pressures are similar, but I really enjoy that. My manager trusts me and gives me a lot of creative freedom and that's very important to me.
What would you tell people who are interested in a housing career?
There are more creative opportunities in housing than you would realise and the challenges within the organisation make for an interesting job. The Housing Executive is very aware of the value of online communication and is committed to building a strong web strategy. I'm very lucky to have joined the Housing Executive when I did and I feel I'm part of a really strong team at a very exciting time.