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External Affairs Executive (IO)

Posted: 1 Oct 2019 Closes: 28 Nov 2019
London. Please note some UK travel will be required. £31,916 - £35,620
Internship defra/20191001153436

Everyone is affected by the work that Defra does. We deal with a vast range of issues that profoundly impact upon people’s lives. We are responsible for England’s environment, our countryside and rural economy, the food and farming sectors and have lead responsibility for protection from a wide range of natural threats and hazards. Your role will be critically important to achieving our vision of ‘creating a great place for living’.

This is a particularly exciting time to join Defra. We are one of the lead Departments in delivering a successful exit from the EU. Leaving the EU will fundamentally change the work we do and how we deliver it. You will have the opportunity to contribute towards and influence the development of new approaches and policies on a wide range of issues affecting millions of people in the UK.

You will play an active role in shaping and delivering Defra’s priorities, working creatively and collaboratively with others to deliver excellent outcomes. These roles will provide significant opportunities to develop your own skills and future career.

Job description

This is an exciting time to join Defra and its communications team. We have a significant international and European agenda, with as much as 80% of our work impacting across borders. And as the UK gets ready to leave the EU, we are committed to engaging and communicating across all of Defra’s sectors and stakeholders, so that all our sectors are ready for the future.

We are looking for an External Affairs Executive to join our External Affairs Team to develop and deliver an ambitious and open programme of engagement for the Secretary of State and Ministerial Team.

The External Affairs Team in Defra sits at the heart of the wider Defra group communications team, working closely across Defra and its arm’s length bodies, with press, and internal and digital teams to drive and deliver the department’s key priorities.
Our team is ambitious about what communications can achieve and believe in its power to challenge perceptions, change behaviour, build partnerships and make a social and economic difference.

By joining the team you would have exposure to the full communications mix: the opportunity to work closely with policy teams, other government departments and a range of external partners to find new and fresh ways of reaching target audiences.

The successful candidate will demonstrate a strong capacity for supporting strategic communications and engagement through building strong relationships and partnerships.

This is an excellent opportunity to develop your portfolio of work across the types of challenges that make headlines. You will therefore be able to quickly establish mutual respect and trust, building long lasting relationships with others. You will have experience of External Affairs, Government relations and/or stakeholder engagement roles, or of similar roles such as media relations, events management, marketing or senior customer relationship management. You will look at the bigger picture and consider the wider factors and long term implications of decisions. You take a positive approach to tackling problems and find ways to identify suitable solutions, looking for better ways of doing things and enjoying coming up with new and original ideas. Crucially you will be able to adapt to variations in work or environment and your effectiveness won’t be impacted by change. You will be flexible and versatile and act as an advocate for change.


Key responsibilities
• Lead on stakeholder intelligence and information gathering contributing to and informing Defra’s External Affairs engagement to support the department’s policy agenda.
• Build and facilitate constructive relationships with key stakeholder organisations through remote and face-to-face communication.
• Prepare briefing and communications materials to support direct engagement with stakeholders, helping to inform the department’s wider communications plan.
• Identify key stakeholders and audiences through research and intelligence gathering, and sharing insight to support the delivery of policy priorities.
• Evaluate the effectiveness of our communications channels to key audience groups, which will help to inform current and future engagement strategies.
• Embed common engagement principles and best practice to improve the quality of stakeholder engagement across the Defra group.

Please note some UK travel will be required.

Essential Criteria - Experience
• Direct experience in External Affairs, Government relations and/or stakeholder engagement roles or in similar roles such as media relations, events management, marketing or senior customer relationship management.
• Experience in the delivery of communications, including stakeholder engagement and channel management with exposure to delivering activity across communication platforms such as digital, PR, marketing, partnerships and events.
• Experience of using insight and evaluation to improve communications.
• A track record of working collaboratively with colleagues at every level across an organisation and with external partners.
• Managing multiple priorities and tight deadlines under pressures.


We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Delivering at Pace
  • Working Together
  • Making Effective Decisions

Technical skills

We'll assess you against these technical skills during the selection process:

  • Communications – Ideas: Campaigns & Marketing
  • Communications – Impact: Campaigns & Marketing
  • Communications – Implementation: Campaigns & Marketing
  • Communications – Insight: Campaigns & Marketing



• Learning and development tailored to your role
• An environment with flexible working options
• A culture encouraging inclusion and diversity
• A Civil Service pension

Things you need to know


Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.

Successful candidates must meet the security requirements before they can be appointed. The level of security needed is counter-terrorist check.

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Behaviours, Strengths, Experience and Technical skills.

As part of the application process you will be asked to complete a CV, four 250 word statements demonstrating how you meet the Behavioural elements and a 600 word personal statement. Further details around what this will entail are listed on the application form.

For your personal statement, in no more than 600 words, please demonstrate how you meet the Experience criteria.

All applications will be sifted by a panel who will look further at the Civil Service Behaviour criteria and Experience evidence provided in your application.

Applicants will be expected to demonstrate the essential role requirements within the application behaviour responses.

Candidates successful at this stage will be invited to interview where Ability, Experience and Technical elements will be tested. Candidates will be required to do a written exercise / presentation at Interview. Further details will be provided to shortlisted candidates in advance of the interviews.

Candidates who are judged to be a near miss may be considered for other posts within Defra where there is a potential skills match.

A reserve list will be held for a period of 12 months from which further appointments can be made.

The sift is expected to take place w/c 28th October 2019.
Interviews are to be confirmed. Interviews will be held in London.

Please note that these dates are only indicative at this stage and could be subject to change. Candidates are asked to, exercise flexibility through the recruitment and selection process as it may not be possible to offer any alternative dates for assessments or interviews.

If successful and transferring from another Government Department a criminal record check maybe carried out. In order to process applications without delay, we will be sending a Criminal Record Check to Disclosure and Barring Service on your behalf. However, we recognise in exceptional circumstance some candidates will want to send their completed forms direct. If you will be doing this, please advise Government Recruitment Service of your intention by emailing stating the job reference number in the subject heading.

External applicants will be offered a permanent contract. Current Civil Servants will permanently transfer departments. A loan for up to two years may be considered for current Civil Servants, the terms of the loan will be agreed between the home and host department and the Civil Servant. This includes grade on return. Employees of accredited NDPBs may be considered for a 2 year secondment.

New entrants are expected to join on the minimum of the pay band.

Any move to DEFRA will mean you will no longer be able to carry on claiming childcare vouchers.

Reasonable adjustment
If a person with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we have a duty to make reasonable changes to our processes.

If you need a change to be made so that you can make your application, you should:

Contact Government Recruitment Service via as soon as possible before the closing date to discuss your needs Complete the “Assistance required” section in the “Additional requirements” page of your application form to tell us what changes or help you might need further on in the recruitment process. For instance, you may need wheelchair access at interview, or if you’re deaf, a Language Service Professional.

Applicants who are successful at interview will be, as part of pre-employment screening subject to a check on the Internal Fraud Database (IFD). This check will provide information about employees who have been dismissed for fraud or dishonesty offences. This check also applies to employees who resign or otherwise leave before being dismissed for fraud or dishonesty had their employment continued. Any applicant’s details held on the IFD will be refused employment.

If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Recruitment.

Principles and you wish to make a complaint, in the first instance, you should contact Government Recruitment Services via email:

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the Department, you can contact the Civil Service Commission:
Click here to visit Civil Service Commission

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

Open to UK, Commonwealth and European Economic Area (EEA) and certain non EEA nationals. Further information on whether you are able to apply is available here.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles.

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equality of opportunity. There is a guaranteed interview scheme (GIS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs

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