All About Government Jobs . . .
Addressing selection criteria, panel interviews, and lengthy recruitment processes ...
Welcome to the world of government job applications.
On this page:
- Applying for a government job vs applying for a 'normal job'
- Why work for the government?
- Finding a government job
- The kinds of vacancies to look for
- The government job application process
Applying for a Government Job vs Applying for a 'Normal Job'
for a government job is a very different process to applying for a
'normal' job (or job in the private sector). There are a number of reasons for these
recruitment processes, but the biggest is that the salaries for
government employees comes from our taxes, and the government has an
obligation to show the public that they are spending their money
wisely, and employing the right people. The process is set
documented, and appeals against decisions can be made in certain
situations. You can't get a job in the
because your brother-in-law recommended you, networking plays no part
in getting government job.
Most of the vacancies aren't advertised in the paper or career websites like most normal jobs.
You can't send your resume in "just in case" an opportunity comes up, it will not be held on file or considered for future vacancies.
Your application will take you at least three times as long as a normal application, if not longer.
The interview will be in front of a panel, who again will question you against the key selection criteria.
The best person doesn't always get the job, often the best application writer will get the job.
- The process is long and drawn out.
The most important thing you can do is pay attention to the selection documentation and write the best possible statements addressing selection criteria that you can!
Why Work for the Government?
Government jobs can provide long-lasting and fulfilling
careers filled with unique experiences and the knowledge that you are
working in a job that is ultimately serving the nation. Their
working conditions (including working hours, leave provisions etc) are
Finding a Government Job
If you've only been looking on the popular internet job boards or in the newspapers, you've probably missed out on most of the vacancies! All government departments are required by their own laws to publicly advertise all permanent jobs and also temporary jobs that are expected to last a considerable time frame. So where do you find these vacancies?
government (or federal government) employs public
servants across Australia in areas that look after national
matters, such as defence, human services, taxation etc. All
commonwealth government jobs
(regardless of the state they are located in) are advertised on the one
The state governments employ public servants within their own state to work in services like schools, hospitals, police, business regulation, and roads and transport departments. At this point in time there is no centralised website for all state government jobs. You will need to visit each state's website individually.
(councils or shires) take responsibility for community facilities, town
planning, local roads, building works, parking, water and sewerage,
domestic animal registration and management and waste disposal.
The best way to find a local government job is to go directly to the website of the council that you want to work for and look at their vacancy page. At this point in time there is no centralised website for all Australian local government jobs.
The Kinds of Vacancies You Might Look For
All ongoing (permanent) opportunities have to be notified on the
applicable governments’ websites (listed above).
Certain positions are also advertised in the press or on popular internet job boards, however this is usually determined by each individual hiring manager or human resources department, so there are no definitive guidelines as to which positions will appear in the paper or on other internet career sites.
Non-ongoing (temporary) positions are also often advertised on the
governments’ websites, however unlike ongoing positions, these
positions don’t have to be advertised here.
Non-ongoing positions can also be advertised on individual
department websites, and departments often outsource these positions to
recruitment agencies or maintain their own register of interested
If you are interested in non-ongoing employment it is best to
contact the individual government department you are interested in
working for to determine how they go about their non-ongoing
Graduate positions are offered in many government departments and
graduate programs are run by the Australian Public Service, the States
and also individual departments. Graduate programs normally advertise
between February and June each year, and are usually advertised on the
Graduates do not need to go through a graduate program in order to
be employed in the Public Service, and are also encouraged to apply for
non-graduate employment opportunities.
Vacation employment, which is often paid, is an excellent way to get
your first job in the public service. Vacation employment allows you to
“get your foot in the door” and learn government policies and processes
so that you are better equipped when you apply for a permanent
Vacation employment is generally administered by each individual department.
Occasionally positions are advertised on the government job websites from private organisations that would be of interest to people visiting Public Service employment websites. Typically these would be information on development opportunities for public servants or other public service related employment.
The Government Job Application Process
The Applicant's Perspective
2. Get the selection documentation and selection criteria
(also called key competencies, application criteria, key
accountabilities etc). You might be able to download it straight from
the vacancy webpage or you might have to contact someone and have it
emailed to you. Instructions will be within the job ad.
3. Speak to the contact officer to get inside information that they other applicants won't have.
5. Update your resume so it is specific to the job and write a cover letter.
6. Attend an interview.
7. Congratulations you have a new government job!
8. Seek post selection feedback. You should do this whether
you got an interview or not, and whether you got the job or not. It
will help you address your application weaknesses next time (which is
also important even if you got the job, because soon enough you will be
applying for a promotion!)
The Government Job Application Process
- The Government's Perspective
The selection process will differ between organisations conducting the recruitment, however will generally look something like the following:
1. A vacancy is identified, or a new position is created;
2. A “Selection Advisory Committee” (SAC) or selection panel is formed;
3. The position is advertised, generally with a two week closing 4. Applications are collected centrally by the Human Resources (HR) section, and then forwarded to the selection panel, which can take up to one week;
5. The selection panel read the applications and make an initial shortlist;
6. Interviews are booked;
7. Interviews are conducted;
8. Reference checks are conducted;
9. A report documenting the process is written;
10. The selection panel members sign the report and submit it to the recruitment delegate;
11. The recruitment delegate signs the report and forwards it to HR;
12. HR process the report and advise the successful and unsuccessful applicants;
13. Unsuccessful applicants receive feedback on their applications.
Each of the above stages can take weeks, depending upon when each
member of the selection panel is available, when applicants are
available to be interviewed, when
referees are available to complete the reference checks, how long it
takes to write the report and when the
delegate is available to sign the report.
It is not uncommon
for recruitment processes to
take months, and in some cases applicants can wait 6 months after their
interview before hearing
that they are successful. Procedurally, the delegate has up to 12
months from the date of the advertisement course is one end of the
extreme, and some panels are very efficient
in their recruitment processes.
As a guide, it is reasonable to expect
that the process will take around three months from the time of
advertising to the time of
notification of the outcome. This might seem like a really long
time if you work in the private sector and have never applied for a
government job before - but it is relatively normal in the government