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Hansard blogging: the official word on the Official Report

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Charlie Browne in the Commons Chamber

This post was first published on the Parliamentary Digital Service blog

Over the coming months, the PDS blog will feature some posts by the Hansard team. With a little experience, we might even develop our own blog. This is new territory. We usually spend hours every day obsessing over the details of other people’s words. We're not used to writing about ourselves, so please be gentle with us!

Hansard is also known as the Official Report. That’s because our job is to produce the official report of the daily proceedings in the Chambers and Committees of the House of Commons. Some of you will know what that means. That's good. Others won't have a clue. That's good too. That's why we're blogging.

We simply want more information out there for people who are generally interested in Hansard, especially if you might like to work for us.

First, let me tell you a story. It’s kind of sad at the beginning but read on there’s a happy ending. Spoiler alert - I get a job I love, live happily ever after and write this blog post. All the best fairy stories end with a blog post, right?

Once upon a time

I was overworked, underpaid and uninterested but I wasn’t surprised. The global financial crash coincided with my first week of university. Blockbuster and Woolworths disappeared from the high street. The media prepared my generation for an uncertain - but certainly unhappy - future.

I spent my first 18 months post-university in a miserable office job. People said I should be grateful to have a job at all. Why should I be stimulated by my work? Worse still, why should I enjoy it? Enjoyment was what weekends were for. Well, Saturdays because Sundays were for dreading Mondays.

Lost in the woods

One day, I applied for a job in the House of Commons. The title was Committee Reporter and it was for the Official Report. I had no idea what that meant. The first hurdle was a fun test of my grammatical and fact-checking abilities so I went for it. I’m a geek for anything like that. I take board games to the pub and then admit to it in blog posts.

The House of Commons soon invited me to take “a practical audio transcription test” in Parliament. That was all I knew. I felt as if I’d applied to become a spy. I wanted to prepare, so I used my millennial googling powers but I didn’t discover much. The advert specified the skills I needed and briefly described the role. But it used Parliamentary terminology and some workplace jargon that I didn’t understand.

I read a lot of information about the history of the organisation dating back decades but I couldn’t find out anything about what a day at work would really involve or what the people were like.

Job in shining armour

I felt underprepared. I’d never even heard of Hansard before but I muddled through the test somehow. That gave me a tiny glimpse of what the job would involve and, I won’t lie, I was awestruck to be in Parliament for the first time in my life. I returned a week later for the final interview. Given my lack of knowledge I probably asked more questions than I answered. But maybe I asked the right questions because I got the job.

I took a massive step into the unknown. I still wasn’t sure whether I would like the job or be out of my depth. As it turns out I was a bit out of my depth. Everyone is when they start. That’s because there’s no other job quite like working at Hansard. But I learnt. I’m still learning. Luckily I loved it from day one and I want to tell other people about it. That’s where you come in.

Bloggily ever after

Whether you’re a regular reader or have never heard of Hansard we want you to know more about us. We want you to understand what we do, why it’s important and we’d like you to get to know us - the people behind the processes.

In our blog posts we’ll debunk some misconceptions and explain some jargon. We’ll tell you about:

  • roles and career progression
  • our university accredited training course
  • our not-so typical working day
  • the tech we use
  • our spangly newish website
  • making our historical content accessible online
  • unicorns*

*Okay, not unicorns but other mysterious, magical and glittery things. Promise!

And it won't just be words. There will be photos too. Some might even have people in. Then you might recognise us on the parliamentary estate or on the tube and ask us a question. That’d be nice.

May 2018 update: As you might have noticed - because you're reading it - we now have our own blog! Our experiences on the PDS blog gave us a great foundation, helping us to spread our wings and leave the virtual nest. We hope you enjoy our content and share it with anyone you think might be interested.

Interested in working for Hansard? You can find out more about working in Hansard on the website.

Here's some more information for those who're interested in working at Hansard:

Download the brochure: A career at Hansard or A career at Hansard - text only version.

If you use Hansard, please let us know what matters to you. Click here to take a brief survey and for a chance to meet the Hansard team.

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