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How to Apply For a Government Job


Once you have identified a job that you want to apply for comes the daunting task of preparing your application. 

Government applications will generally require:

  • An application form.
  • A cover letter.
  • Statements addressing the job description or selection criteria (these will need to be comprehensive and one or two short paragraphs are generally not sufficient).
  • A resume.
  • Details of at least two professional referees.
  • Additional evidence as requested such as evidence of qualifications or licenses.

These requirements will be outlined in the applicant information pack / selection documentation, so the first step in your government application process is to phone or email the contact offer and review the selection documentation.

After submitting your application will come the interview, reference checks and an offer of employment.  While private organisations often conduct second interviews with the preferred applicant/s, this is very rare in government recruitment.

The two key differences when applying for a government job are:

  1. Timeframes - the application process will most likely be long and drawn out, with recruitment exercises taking 3 months on average.
  2. The requirement to address selection criteria - approximately 95% of positions advertised will require applicants to provide comprehensive responses to a set of selection criteria. These statements need to be detailed and specific and demonstrate strong claims in order for you to be considered for an interview. Sometimes the selection criteria are labelled as such, and sometimes they are within the job description.

The best applications will provide at least half to three quarters of a page of written evidence per selection criterion, unless the applicant information pack states otherwise. Writing short or inadequate responses to the selection criteria will generally guarantee that you don't get an interview, even if you are the most qualified and experienced person for the job.