Seeking ‘Assorted Weirdos’ for the Civil Service Across the Pond

The kind of people who “don’t conform to the horrors of human resources” are encouraged to apply for work in the British government.

When you think of the British government, you may picture bespoke suit-wearing, Oxford-educated bureaucrats or magistrates bedecked in powdered wigs. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s team has a very different vision, and is actively seeking “weirdos and misfits with odd skills” to serve in the seat of government at No. 10 Downing St. 

Those are among the types of people top Johnson adviser Dominic Cummings identified as targets for recruitment in a lengthy blog post published Thursday. 

Cummings, Politico Europe reported, “seeks to shake up the way government works and ensure the United Kingdom thrives once the country leaves the [European Union] at the end of the month.”

“There are many brilliant people in the civil service and politics,” Cummings wrote. “Over the past five months the No10 political team has been lucky to work with some fantastic officials. But there are also some profound problems at the core of how the British state makes decisions.”

His proposed solution: “hire an unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds.” Some of those he has in mind don’t sound all that odd in the 21st century workforce: mathematicians, data scientists, software developers, economists, and “great project managers.”

The latter group is limited to people “who have a 1 in 10,000 or higher level of skill and temperament,” because, Cummings argued, “it is obvious that improving government requires vast improvements in project management. The first project will be improving the people and skills already here.”

But those not yet in the civil service that are targets for outreach includes some people with decidedly unusual skills and backgrounds. That category of recruits Cummings characterized as “super-talented weirdos.”

“We need some true wild cards, artists, people who never went to university and fought their way out of an appalling hell hole, weirdos from William Gibson novels like that girl hired by Bigend as a brand ‘diviner’ who feels sick at the sight of Tommy Hilfiger or that Chinese-Cuban free runner from a crime family hired by the KGB,” he wrote.

“By definition I don’t really know what I’m looking for but I want people around No10 to be on the lookout for such people. We need to figure out how to use such people better without asking them to conform to the horrors of ‘Human Resources’ (which also obviously need a bonfire).”

The jobs require a two-year commitment, but Cummings said those who didn’t work out would be fired “within weeks.”