Securing a Government Job

securing a government jobThere is little doubt that the employment landscape has changed significantly of late.  Securing a Government job has always been held in high regard as Government positions are a permanent, secure and well paid option to private industry.  Recently issues due to Government cutbacks and a budget have changed this situation.  The demographic for Government positions was already changing.  It is rare for individuals to remain in the one position or department for long periods of time.  There is constant movement, promotion and restructuring that creates a continual cycle of employment opportunities.

Aside from the risks now facing Government departments from budget cutbacks, securing a government position can be beneficial.  However, the process and approach used to win a Government position is different.  Here are a few of the key areas that will help you make an informed decision and transition between the private and Government sector.

Selecting the Right Position

Winning a Government position requires progression through two main stages, selection criteria preparation or written application and interview.  In both stages your responsibility is to demonstrate to the selection panel your capability to undertake the position.  However at this point you must be competitive to achieve an interview.  Many new applicants to the Government sector fail to realise that this is a competitive process based on how you rank amongst other applicants.  All applicants selected for interview have the capability to meet the requirements of the role.  In this context it is important that you have relevant experience and qualifications matched to requirements.  If you do not match any of the position requirements, this will make you less competitive.

Answering Selection Criteria 

It would be beyond the scope of this article to clearly describe how to address selection criteria.  Complete books, websites and guides have been dedicated to this practice.  However an essential component to addressing selection criteria is to understand the question and provide evidence.  A practical example of how you meet each question is essential to demonstrating depth of knowledge and understanding of process.  A simple structure is to outline the situation, action and results.  Each department publishes a guide to addressing selection criteria.  Review requirements and ensure that applications comply with expected presentation such as number of pages and font.

Contact Officer

Making contact with the organisation is a valuable process.  Information can be gained in relation to the position, responsibilities and type of person required for the role.  Often position descriptions are prepared by the heads of departments with little understanding of the actual requirements of the role.  Discussing the requirements of this position with the Contact Officer will improve your application.


Applicants who have little experience in the Government sector or preparing applications often struggle with many of the myths surrounding this process.  Let’s clear up some of these:

  • Government positions are never guaranteed or previously allocated to an existing team member
  • Special language relevant to the government sector is not required, however terminology relevant to your industry and the position is essential
  • Applicants acting in positions are not always successful in securing the role
  • Conditions do not match the private sector especially pay levels which are often below the level of responsibility in other areas
  • Applications are only valid for the position applied for and individuals cannot be considered for other roles without reapplying
  • Only acting positions can be recruited without the standard government process

It is important to remember that if you are unsuccessful in securing a Government position but have achieved an interview you are now part of the merit list.  Within a predetermined timeframe if the original applicant refuses or leaves the position the selection panel has the discretion to employ the next person on the merit list.

Securing a Government job can be difficult, however through attention to detail, understanding the position and organisation and showing relevant experience your chances of success are increased.

Best of luck with your application.


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John Matthews

The Writing Wizards has more than 10 years experience in providing direct assistance, coaching and preparation of professional material for jobseekers.This includes a comprehensive approach to preparing professional resumes, Government applications and interview coaching.With a background in Government and a successful record in achieving results for clients, John Matthews continues to demonstrate an intimate knowledge of the job market and processes.

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