Government selection process

It goes without saying that going for a job in the public sector comes with a whole set of rules and requirements that you won't find in the private sector job market. If you have never worked for a government before, you need to be prepared for exactly what criteria you need to meet.

There are three levels of government in Australia - federal, state and local - and there are many different jobs within those three structures. And each job, in each level, comes with a different set of parameters and criteria.

So, will a masterfully compiled resume and a beautifully crafted cover letter be enough to secure you one of these jobs? Absolutely not.

Government employers are looking for applicants who use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) model in their applications. To follow this model, you must provide information on the following:

  • Situation. Provide a brief outline of the situation in which you worked
  • Task. Outline what you did
  • Action. Describe how you did it
  • Result. List the outcomes

If you stick to this format, your chances of winning the government job you apply for will be greatly enhanced. Ignore it and you may be overlooked immediately. To really nail your government job application, it is well worth taking a look at the fact sheet provided at Australian Government - How to Apply

Prepare to be employed

Given the fact that the criteria for applying for a government job are so strict, it doesn't hurt to have them there in front of you right from the start.

So, create a new document, cut and paste the criteria into it, then create some spaces between each section for your responses.

Go to your resume, and then cut and paste any relevant pieces of information into the section where they belong. You now have the framework of your response. Then start writing, moulding and shaping each section as you go. Pretty soon it will start taking shape.

As you work through it, always bear in mind that your response should:

  • Explain the nature and extent of your experience
  • Outline your past responsibilities
  • Demonstrate your accomplishments, and
  • Provide concrete examples of those outcomes.

Examples are the cornerstone of a successful government job application. Governments at all levels like to see a proven track record before they hire someone and there is no better way of demonstrating that record than with specific examples. There are no certainties in life, but governments are about making informed decisions. They are much less likely to go on 'gut feeling'. They want evidence.

So if the job you are applying requires negotiation skills, provide two examples from the past of when your negotiation skills came to the fore and achieved a result. If the job requires leadership, provide two examples of when you led, how you led and what results your leadership achieved.

You might think that being forced to respond to such a regimented, inflexible selection criteria may be unfair. But the reality is that working for a government requires an ability to do certain things in a certain way. Governments are accountable and therefore, so too are the people who work for them.

Governments are accountable and therefore, so too are the people who work for them.