tips and tricks

Tips and tricks to kick start your public service career

Do you want to apply for a role in the public service? Don’t know where to start?

An informational interview can provide that opportunity. But what is an informational interview, and how do you secure one? If you organise one, how do you make the most of it?

Page Personnel  Indeed  and Seek have tips for those who want to apply for a job in the public sector.

Finding your area of interest


Determine your area of focus

So, you have decided you want to work in the public sector. Now, you must determine if you want to work for a local council, the state, or the federal government. If you wish to work for the federal government, be aware that many of these positions are based in Canberra.


Look for roles in area of expertise

If you are transitioning from the private sector, check if there are any public sector roles in areas where you have skills, knowledge or experience. You could make a list of government departments that would suit your skill set.


Getting a job


It’s a good idea to get to know people who already work in the public service.  You can do this by attending events and introducing yourself to them. By doing so, you can open yourself up to new opportunities.  


Know where to look

You can set up job alerts for job boards tailored to your area of interest in the public sector. For example, Careers Victoria allows you to subscribe to job alerts for positions in the Victorian Public Service. Most job search sites will allow you to filter jobs, so you only receive ads for jobs in the area you are interested in.


Your application


Tailor your application to the role

While it can be tempting not to, you should tailor your application to each role you apply for. Consider making a resume template that you can edit for each role.

You should include relevant examples of skills you can demonstrate that align to the role.

To help put your resume together, you can cut and paste requirements from the job description. Then, locate something relevant from your existing resume and write it underneath. For example, if the job description says the position requires “Excellent written and verbal communication skills” make sure to include examples of your communication skills.

For government applications, aim to write your resume in a standard font.


Write a well-written cover letter

Outline your reasons for applying for the position in the first paragraph.

After that, you can include further information demonstrating your suitability for the role.

End with a line saying that you are available for an interview.


Address key selection criteria

For most government jobs you must address the key selection criteria. These could be technical skills, such as understanding computer programs or soft skills, such as communication. It is unlikely your application will be considered if you do not address these.


Allow plenty of time

Many public sector job openings have an extensive process that requires more than a resume or cover letter. So when preparing your application make sure you allow plenty of time. If your application is late, it is likely not to even be considered.


Make sure social media is consistent

Make sure your resume and your LinkedIn account are consistent. If there are any inconsistencies this will give the hiring manager a red flag.


After you’ve applied

Be patient

The hiring process for government jobs is slow. Several government departments have to review applications and fill out paperwork. Don’t be concerned if you hear nothing for a while.


Tailoring your application for a government role isn’t easy.  Public Service Resumes has various services that can assist you, including our resume and cover letter writing service.