As a career coach I have had many clients ask me how to approach an application for a role in the public service. They find it a little daunting, as applications in this area require a detailed look at the Key Selection Criteria, a sound understanding of what is required and applications must address each and every criterion. There is a set procedure to follow to ensure every applicant is given a fair and unbiased opportunity.
So, if you’ve seen a job opportunity in the public service advertised and you want to apply, where do you start?
The key requirement for Government positions is to respond to the Key Selection Criteria (KSC). You must understand how to address the criteria. Those of you who conduct some basic research about the job before submitting your applications will achieve the best results. Before you apply, think about the job requirements and gather as much relevant information as you can, so that you can focus your job application.
By following these three steps you will give yourself the best possible chance for serious consideration:
1. Are you Qualified to do the Job?
Ask yourself these questions:
Does this role interest me because it fits with my career values and desired career directions?
Do I meet all or most of the Key Selection Criteria for this job?
Do I have skills gained in other fields of work that may be transferable?
Would I be able to do the job with a little training formal or on the job?
If the answer to all of the above is yes, then you are ready to apply. Before you do so, make a few notes:
Summarise your academic and career history and the skills you can offer
Highlight your strengths, relevant experiences, achievements and capabilities.
Address any obvious weaknesses and the training you are willing to complete to address these.
Address each Key Selection Criterion for the job.
Prepare or update your resume.
Talk to your referees about the job you are applying for and what they will say about you to a prospective employer.
2. Understand the Job and Key Selection Criteria
If you don’t fully understand the job requirements you may have difficulty demonstrating that you are the best person for the job. Study the Position Description, including Key Selection Criteria, along with any other relevant information you have collected.
Contact the person handling the recruitment for the role (there is usually a name and number in the job advertisement) to find out more about the position and ask any questions you may have so you fully understand the requirements.
There are four main items to review in a Position Description:
These tell you about the way the organisation works and what it expects of its employees. Are you comfortable that these values fit with the way you want to work?
This is a list of the day-to-day responsibilities and tasks of the job. Each job has a key focus certain roles may require you to supervise staff, manage resources or provide policy advice; other roles maybe to deliver support services or provide staff training, etc. Your career background and interests should match the requirements of the job.
You must demonstrate that you have the capabilities, personal qualities, knowledge and skills to do the job. You may have worked in a related field or industry or have personal interests that have enabled you to develop the relevant skills and experience.
Key Selection Criteria:
The Key Selection Criteria outline the qualities, knowledge and skills needed to do the job. You will need to write short statements that sell your specific capabilities for each of the criterion. It is important to include specific examples or situations where you have demonstrated the behaviour, knowledge, skills and personal qualities asked for in the Key Selection Criteria.
Writing a good response statement is essential to prepare you for the interview stage of the selection process. Now that you have specific examples you will be better prepared to answer questions about your ability to do the job. Check each statement for the correct spelling and grammar.
By law, all candidates must be assessed fairly and consistently and be selected on merit.
It is possible to do this by using the Key Selection Criteria given to all candidates to assess their ability to do a job.
Describing how you meet Key Selection Criteria ensures all information about your suitability for a job is captured. If it is an online application you are making, you can type in the spaces on the online application or cut and paste text from a document youve prepared.
Each selection criteria will vary among different employers and jobs however they are always statements combining skills, knowledge, experience and personal qualities. For example:
“Ability to develop and maintain systems and processes for mail distribution and storage of publications and brochures”
“Ability to prioritise tasks and meet deadlines.”
Many selection criteria are based on key capabilities. For example:
Resilience – Perseveres to achieve goals, even in the face of obstacles. Copes with setbacks. Stays calm under pressure. Accepts constructive criticism without becoming defensive.
Problem Solving – Seeks all relevant facts. Liaises with stakeholders. Analyses issues from different perspectives and draws sound inferences from available data. Identifies and proposes workable solutions.
Respond to all Key Selection Criteria in the same way:
1. Read and fully understand the job advertisement, Key Selection Criteria and Position Description.
2. Print or save the Job Details or Position Description so you can refer back to it when necessary.
3. Highlight key words in each of the criteria and think about what the employer is looking for.
4. List examples of how you meet the each criterion. Describe relevant skills, experience, training, personal qualities, expertise and what you couldnt have done without all these.
5. Review your list and summarise, in 60-120 words, how you demonstrated what was required for each criterion.
When working on your responses, the Problem Action Result methodology will help:
PROBLEM/SITUATION – Where and when did you do it?
ACTION – What did you do and how did you do it?
RESULT – What was the outcome of your actions?
This may seem a long way to make an application however, by following the instructions and addressing all that is required you will ensure you are considered fairly along with all other candidates.
In many cases qualifications are either not required or are an added advantage / desirable.
However, some roles need formal or mandatory qualifications, such as a University Degree.
You must be able to produce documentary evidence of these qualifications to be appointed to the job.
3. Find out about the Employer
The Government is the largest employer in each State. Each department and agency has different objectives, functions and programs and may deliver services in a variety of ways to the community. It is important that you find out what the employing agency does – its’ objectives and functions and how the job you are applying for fits in. Research the agency’s website or visit a public library to find out the information that will assist you in an interview:
Look at Annual Reports, Business and Corporate Plans. There may well be a question asked at the job interview to explore your understanding of the agency’s role. If you’ve done your homework, you will be able to impress your potential employer by describing what you understand the organisation does.
The organisational structure – an organisation chart sets out the reporting arrangements and may tell you where the advertised job fits in. Usually the organisational context will be stated in the Position Description.
Agency values – these vary for each agency. Public sector values are responsiveness; integrity; impartiality; accountability; respect and leadership.
By following these three steps you will give yourself the best possible chance for consideration for the role. The process can be time consuming however it will prepare you well for interviews by ensuring that you fully understand your capabilities and are able to discuss them in detail.
Good luck with your applications!
Jane Jackson is a Senior Consultant at Drake International (Recruitment Services) and Director of Style Success, coaching for success. For more information visit www.stylesuccess.biz or contact email@example.com