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Breaking the APS barrier?

By UrbanAdventure.org - 8 March 2010 36

I am currently working in a temporary, non ongoing APS job which finishes at the end of this month. I am trying to find an ongoing APS job to work in. However I have always had problems with answering the selection criteria. Although I consider my writing skills (I am a Technical writer / IT support person) and qualifications to be quite good, I just don’t get interviews for APS jobs. I’m obviously doing something wrong when answering the selection criteria. I need help to answer then. I do answer honestly, and try to give examples which I think are good, but I am still not getting interviews. Mind you I have no problem getting private industry jobs and short term jobs.

This is very frustrating as I need the security of a long term job. I have a medical condition which mostly does not affect my ability to work, but which will require ongoing and moderately expensive medical attention from time to time. Hence the need for a steady income. I used to be in an APS job before, but after we were privatised my position was made redundant.

I got my current job through an employment agency. I have found though that employment agencies are geared up to getting people contracting positions and short term jobs because then they get more finders fees.

Has anyone had any success with an employment agency which has gotten them an ongoing APS job? Or can they recommend any employment agencies as being better than others? Also, does anyone know where to get help with applying for APS jobs? I just want to have a steady job where I help people and have some job satisfaction thrown in.

What’s Your opinion?


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36 Responses to
Breaking the APS barrier?
bd84 8:37 pm 08 Mar 10

There are companies around that will write responses to selection criteria for you.. well basically take what you have written and help you improve it. That might be a good place to start if you think it’s your selection criteria writing skills negatively impacting you progressing. Most APS jobs will bin your application straight off if it doesn’t address the criteria.

Yes there are jobs around where there is already sitting in the position, while it might be possible for people outside to take that position, in reality, the percentage would be quite low. But then if you don’t apply, you will never know.

ACTing like a Mama 7:41 pm 08 Mar 10

I am a recruitment manager at a large department and this is my two cents worth:

There is a certain formula that most selection critera are assessed against. Doesn’t matter how well you can “write” if you fail to meet the actual points they are assessing, you will be cut.

Many departments are following the SES style capability framework. This basically describe what you can expect to be competent at each particular level. For example, an APS 4 might have a good understanding of ABC, while an APS 6 would be expected to have a strong understanding of ABC etc.

Now, sometimes the questions will be used to assess certain capabilities, communciation, innovation etc – often the questions will make the capability self explanatory, but sometimes not, you need to understand what they are trying to assess and focus on that in your selection criteria.

Best practice recruitment often talks about using past skills and capabilities in determining future proprects. The best way to do this is to provide a valid example of when you “showed leadership” or whatever the question is asking you. It’s easy if you break it down using the STAR principle:
S – Situation; what was going on at the time, what was the environment like, why was it not working
T – task – what did you do
A – Action – How did you do it
R – Result – what happened, what was achieved, and why did it work.

Spend your words focusing on this, and be prepared to use more than one example if necessary. Don’t talk about what you can do unless you back it up with proof that you have done it in the past.

Also, relook over your resume. Often in APS selection processes the resume is overlooked with focus being on the selection critera, but if you tailor your resume to the specific role that you are applying for, you will be one further step ahead. Feel free to make part of your resume a list of skills that you have, perhaps label them under headings such as “Admin skills” or “Technological Skills” etc – whatever may be appropriate.

Finally, don’t be afriad to ring the contact officer and ask why you weren’t selected. APS have a general practice of offering feedback as to why you weren’t selected.

Good luck.

Ally

Kuku 4:26 pm 08 Mar 10

laughtong said :

Have a look at this site http://www.selectioncriteria.com.au/

Her book would hopefully be in the Public Libraries or in your Agency’s library.

You should have access to a library through most APS agencies – check it out! There may be other good resources there for these types of issues.

+1 for Dr Villiers book. You used to be able to pick it up at the Co-op.

trevar 4:21 pm 08 Mar 10

Not sure about agencies; you’d be limiting the number of jobs you’d be open to if you went to one. But there are a few career counsellors out there who specialise in assisting people to land APS jobs. Ann Villiers is one of them, and she’s also written a book about it.

fabforty 3:45 pm 08 Mar 10

I am so sick of people who say “oh you wont ever get a job if someone is already acting in it”. That is not only totally wrong but just a bit pathetic.

I know of many, including myself, who have won jobs which have had someone already acting in them. Just because someone is acting in a position doesn’t mean they are performing well or the most suitable or qualified to be there. Sometimes it just means they were in the right place at the right time and their branch was desperate to put a bum on a seat.

Instead of blaming the fact that someone was already acting in a position as the reason you didn’t get a job, how about looking at the standard of your application and whether your qualifications and experience are up to scratch ?

If people don’t bother applying for jobs simply because there is someone already acting in it then a lot of unsuitable people are going to be handed jobs on a platter while better candidates are still at home going through the classifieds.

Got to be in it to win it, people !

Enny 2:06 pm 08 Mar 10

I’m not sure how old you are, what pay you’re on and if this is relevant for you, but some government graduate programs accept people with tertiary education completed up to 7 years ago – they usually guarantee permanent employment at completion.

UrbanAdventure.org 1:59 pm 08 Mar 10

earthrepair said :

Perhaps don’t share your medical condition with them. Although they say they don’t I am sure they would subconsciously discriminate against people who might cause them extra anxiety. You are often dealing with a fairly bureaucratic type of person who sees things black and white and may not be so compassionate or even care; unlike say our editor.

Oh, I don’t. Yeah, there’s no way I’d tell them about it before getting the job and I avoid telling them about it full stop. Yesh, I don’t mention things that are likly to be judged when in all fairness they should not be. I’m not being dishonest, but really my medical history should not be a factor in if I get a job or not unless it has a big affect on my job. This dosn’t for the vast majority of the time.

Piratemonkey 12:50 pm 08 Mar 10

To further sexynotsmarts comment, you will also find a huge number of the jobs advertised are already filled.

After the APS budget cuts(at least at the department I work for)it was very difficult to hire staff but that does not mean internal staff were not getting acting positions. That is how where I work most new positions were being filled. Further more positions were cut and those staff were merely transferred around the department. Only short term temp contracts are being offered to fill the vacant entry level positions until there is budget certainty.

Now all those higher duties and temp contracts have been going on for so long the positions have to be advertised but the odds of someone external getting the job is slim.

My section recently advertised advertised a number of positions including mine. They attracted well over 50 applications for each position but all the positions are filled, the odds of replacing us were incredibly low as we have all been doing the job for quite a while and in my opinion quite well.

A good question to ask when applying for a job is whether someone is acting in the position. If there is, don’t get your hopes up.

As a side note with IT contractors currently out of flavor and staff being brought “in house” all over the APS you should find something in the near future.

LlamaFrog 12:48 pm 08 Mar 10

ChrisinTurner said :

The APS is changing over to the the private sector system of “it’s not what you know but who you know”. You will notice that few job descriptions call for any qualifications. This is evident in the IT areas of nearly every department where there are even EL1 people with no IT technical skills. When people with IT skills come along they are hounded out of the APS by supervisors who feel threatened.

what crap, sexynotsmart is correct.

laughtong 12:46 pm 08 Mar 10

Have a look at this site http://www.selectioncriteria.com.au/

Her book would hopefully be in the Public Libraries or in your Agency’s library.

You should have access to a library through most APS agencies – check it out! There may be other good resources there for these types of issues.

earthrepair 12:16 pm 08 Mar 10

Perhaps don’t share your medical condition with them. Although they say they don’t I am sure they would subconsciously discriminate against people who might cause them extra anxiety. You are often dealing with a fairly bureaucratic type of person who sees things black and white and may not be so compassionate or even care; unlike say our editor.

UrbanAdventure.org 12:07 pm 08 Mar 10

I should mention that I was referring to private recruiting companies when writing “employment agency”. Not the government funded ones which Centerlink send you to.

And thanks eyeLikeCarrots. I’ll check that out. I think I’ve read that before though.

sexynotsmart 11:41 am 08 Mar 10

Urbanadventure, if you know you can do the jobs just chalk it down to market conditions.

One of the Drinking Chix is in HR for a large department. Since GFC the number of good candidates applying for permanent APS jobs has been through the roof. Examples: 60+ applications for a tech EL1 before Christmas, 40+ for another similar role in January. And every single one met the selection criteria. I don’t care what ‘self-help’ gurus say about making your application stand out from a crowd, with that many competitors it comes down to luck.

On the upside, the economy is picking up. Contractors looking for a GFC shelter will head back to the finance sector. As long as the Budget is not horrendous I’m sure you’ll get picked up before July.

‘re applying for jobs you know you can do

ChrisinTurner 10:44 am 08 Mar 10

The APS is changing over to the the private sector system of “it’s not what you know but who you know”. You will notice that few job descriptions call for any qualifications. This is evident in the IT areas of nearly every department where there are even EL1 people with no IT technical skills. When people with IT skills come along they are hounded out of the APS by supervisors who feel threatened.

eyeLikeCarrots 10:22 am 08 Mar 10

Not sure if this will be a great help but I think it assisted me when applying for my first APS job.

http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications07/crackingthecode.htm

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