Resumes – any recommendations on a fair priced CV?

blindcommissioner 8 September 2008 43

I’ve been self employed for the past 20 years.

Now I’m looking for someone to help me put a CV together.

It needs to be good, suitable for joining the PS.

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43 Responses to Resumes – any recommendations on a fair priced CV?
Overheard Overheard 8:42 am 10 Sep 08

Oh, God knows I’ve seen some horrendous things done. I had a delegate (in a previous life) tell me quite candidly what he was going to do with a selection order of merit, and I almost physically dragged him into an office and gave him the, ‘What the fark did you just say and no, don’t repeat it, I heard you, but you are now going to grab person B on the order who you were going to offer three months of acting to on a trial basis, while at the same time promoting C and D, and you smile sweetly and wish B your hearty congratulations: you’ve got a promotion!’ The delegate was going out with D at the time, though that wasn’t universally known.

(In a previous former prior life I was a departmental Recruitment Manager in the APS, and I could tell some tales that would turn your toes up. The toe-turners were mercifully very much in the minority.)

I guess I’m just saying don’t scare an outsider and potential off before they’ve got the chance to witness the APS firsthand and make their own assessments. As always, good to have your eyes wide open.

And yes, get ready to enter the land of the TLAs. I thought this was the preserve of the APS, but private sector (especially business systems consulting) has shown me that the private world does TLAs with the best of them. Our SUB KPIs were littered with them.

BerraBoy68 BerraBoy68 8:24 am 10 Sep 08

I-filed said :

Overheard in my department it is utterly rampant. Senior managers instruct panels who to hire.

When heading up a selection panel on one occasion, I had a heated argument with a Branch Head who wanted me to move a candidate from the bottom of the order of merit to the top. Her application was ordinary and her interview quite bad. However, the Branch Head was quite taken by the fact she had a Masters Degree in Latin. For some reason this Bloke liked to surround himself with people who were fluent in the language. I said ‘no” and left her where she was.

Tip for young players – don’t put down you were “awarded the Order of Merit” by a specific Department just because they told you you were on this list. One poor sod put this on his application a few years back and while he didn’t get an interview, everybody seemed to have a good laugh at his expense. Note: The ‘order of merit’ is simply the list of by which applicants have been ranked following the selection process.

As for hard working Public servants, I’ve worked in 6 Departments and two agencies over 20 years. There a some workers who treat their work as a joke (at almost all levels) and there are some who do the hard yards. Generally speaking though, I found that Defence requires more of its staff (in time, dedication, skills and experience) than do the other Department I’ve work in. I even had to sack two people as my last task before leaving there to work in the private sector. Sacking people is almost unheard of in the other Departments I’ve worked in.

G-Fresh G-Fresh 11:50 pm 09 Sep 08

cbf aps applications

ott requirements

tcb with tla’s what

I-filed I-filed 10:45 pm 09 Sep 08

Overheard in my department it is utterly rampant. Senior managers instruct panels who to hire. I’m quite serious. I’ve scribed, and it’s quite an eye-opener. It happens with a scribe present!

Whether temps are burned and churned depends on the agency. My current agency is fine on that point. I’ve temped in three agencies that were outrageous – and been burned out twice, quite seriously.

Always a mixed bag – where I am now, most of the EL2s turn up at 9 or later.

Interesting how different peoples’ experiences are. Perhaps blindcommissioner should ask questions about specific agencies…. and see what the consensus is. I’d be surprised if anyone has anything good to say about ATO or Centrelink, but who knows?

bigred bigred 10:42 pm 09 Sep 08

and also some places might advertise one position that is occupied by the acting bod, but use the process to have look at other likely prospects for other jobs they may have in the back pocket. In the current environment lots of workplaces are stockpiling for future vacancies.

Overheard Overheard 10:37 pm 09 Sep 08

Agree with most of what bigred and i-filed said (esp. about temping first) with some reservations.

“If there is an incumbent – forget it.” Bollocks (cf. above).

Many permanents* swan in at 6am and leave at 7pm — it’s not all a big party in the pubes, er, so to speak. And it’s mostly been my experience that temps are very valued team members because they’re often seen as permanents* in waiting. (I think they’ve changed the terminology now to ‘ongoing’ or some such.)

“Remember always that ‘merit selection’ is cr*p. Managers hire who they want. Cronyism is rampant.” With the word ‘always’ in there, utter bollocks. Of course it goes on (not as much as private enterprise) but it happens.

I-filed I-filed 10:28 pm 09 Sep 08

Agree with bigred.

Go through a reputable agency, don’t turn down very short contracts (I attained my permanent job after being prepared to take on brief contracts, the agency was pleased with me, and a three-week contract turned into a job in one of the best agencies).

Once you’re in the govt dept, start applying for internal jobs. Try to get on the department’s payroll if you can, rather than the employment agency.

APS have to treat you like an internal employee if you are on the internal payroll. You can ask for training as needed (though not studybank type programs unless you’re permanent) and you will get performance feedback.

Concentrate on networking and being fun to be around. Unfortunately for the taxpayer, that is what will get you a permanent job rather than the quality of your work. It’s about relationships. If you’re a drinker, so much the better.

If you apply for a job of your own volition, phone the contact and get as much information as you can. If there is an incumbent – forget it.

Apply for jobs that are a rung or two below where you think you should be. You can be promoted very rapidly. I have watched a good employee go from APS4 to EL1 without a degree, in three years.

As a temp, you may be worked hard by lazy people. Don’t think that because the permanents swan in at 9.30 and rack off at 4.00, that you can do same. Contractors can be subject to ‘burn and churn’.

Some of the best agencies are the ‘underpaid’ ones. Public servants are very well paid for what’s expected of them, so don’t quibble about three or four grand between agencies.

As far as your job application: go to the website and fish around until you find all the information about what’s expected at what level. In among all the dross you will find gold. And the latest buzzwords like ‘resilience’.

If you score an interview and don’t make it through, always get feedback. Make the effort. It’s a good look to be goodnatured about disappointment and seek information. Ask for your application to be used to consider other positions for the next six months.

Remember always that ‘merit selection’ is cr*p. Managers hire who they want. Cronyism is rampant.

needlenose needlenose 10:12 pm 09 Sep 08

Out of sheer idle curiosity I just googled “To The Letter” to see if it was run by anyone I’d heard of.

Oddly, there wasn’t a single clue on the website as to who the principals are, though they claim all sorts of expertise in all sorts of areas. So I went to the ASIC website and searched “To The Letter” and found that the company matching that ABN was deregistered three years ago.

Not the best recommendation.

bigred bigred 10:09 pm 09 Sep 08

best way into the PS at moment is a temp gig through one of the recruitment agencies or cold calling the departments recruitment areas, getting yourself a good rep and inside running when a job comes up permanently. Might be crap work at first, but it can be an in for a good future. Some agencies are screaming out for lower level APS staff (eg APS4) at the moment and are making entry fairly easy.

Felix the Cat Felix the Cat 9:39 pm 09 Sep 08

Danman said :

Try “About:Work” in Narrabundah.

The lady who runs the business from home is a Gem.
She charged me $400 for all consultations a brand new CV from APS perspective and answered a selection criteria that got me an APS4 job coming from hospitality.

Agreed that the interview is the clincher – but to get an interview you have to shine with your CV and address to the selection criteria first.

+1 For “About:Work”.

A company (I use that term very loosely) [b]NOT[/b] to use is “To The Letter”. Without going into boring detail they are totally incompetent.

New Yeah New Yeah 9:33 pm 09 Sep 08

VicePope said :

It’s not rocket science… Main principles – keep it simple and a straightforward read… Proofread and proofread again and get someone else to read it. If it has errors, it says you’re sloppy.

That is the key. No matter how well you sell yourself, simple mistakes can distract the reader’s eye from the most well argued of selection criteria.

Please try to avoid spelling mistakes and convoluted sentence structures. People in the APS like to hire those who can express themselves succinctly.

All the best!

VicePope VicePope 7:53 pm 09 Sep 08

It’s not rocket science. I’ve done some amateur work as a resume doctor for a number of folk.

Main principles – keep it simple and a straightforward read. You don’t have to include date of birth. Separate out stuff like personal identifier details, education, work experience and other claims or interests – this is a good spot to mention anything voluntary. Brief chunk on all the lovely skills you have picked up in terms that make it clear they are transferable to the kind of public sector job you’re looking at. Be careful in what you say about other people, the people you worked with etc. Include the names of referees – make sure it’s ok with them first. Proofread and proofread again and get someone else to read it. If it has errors, it says you’re sloppy.

Attach it to job applications. I agree with anyone who said check out the lie of the land, rather than waste time on being a pretend participant in a boat race run for the benefit of existing staff – you wouldn’t want to work with a pack of jerks who did that anyway. Get hold of any information you can get (websites are good, even the annual reports will tell you stuff). Address all selection criteria, and all parts of all criteria. There are some buzzwords, but don’t use them if you don’t feel comfortable with them.

Danman Danman 6:52 pm 09 Sep 08


Er no…

Skid – I was a trade qualified chef – all I even knew was hospitality – I had no sources free or otherwise to draw on, hence my outlay – sure it was exxy – but here I am a permanent employee of the APS with a TSNV clearance – pretty good for a chef.

Hence my investment pays me dividends daily.

BerraBoy68 BerraBoy68 6:13 pm 09 Sep 08

blindcommissioner – I don’t normally make this offer to strangers but… if you want, I can do your application for small fee. I normally do this for mates, acquaintances etc. for a case of beer but apparently I have to go on a health kick (damned Doctors… mumble, grunt).

I’ve written loads of applications for various people and, as I’ve said previously, I’ve also chaired a few selection panels in my time. In short, I have some experience in hiring people in the APS and know what I like to see in applications and hear at interview. I’ve also 20 years experience in the APS behind me from an APS1 through to Exec. Level 2 (variously called Managers, Directors and more, depending on what Department or Agency you work in).

I’ve since joined the ‘dark side’ and now hire my services back to the highest bidder (often the Commonwealth)as a consultant – although in a specialist field of contracting.

If you want you can contact me at BerraBoy68 at gmail dot com

Overheard Overheard 5:57 pm 09 Sep 08


“6) Broad experience is more valued in more places than specialist experience.
(Unless you’re applying for or have experience specialist areas, then stake your claim to the niche)”

True. Gone are the days when you needed demonstrated experience in the exact role as being advertised to have a shot. (Except for very specialised positions with specific requirements, esp. educational quals.)

The word for the day is ‘aptitude’. With the general skills shortage, if you can show you’ve got the goods when it comes to that ‘or quickly acquire the ability to…’, and you can back it up with some wordly experience no matter where or how*, you stand a good chance of being short-listed or being rated suitable.

* To a point. That lemonade stand you and your kid-sister had in pre-school may not be a winner when asked to prove your business acumen.

Overheard Overheard 5:51 pm 09 Sep 08

Agree with just about all of the above, Skid, but must take issue with this:

“1) Always ask if someone is already acting in the role.
If they are, you need to be stunning on paper to make it to interview, but then its up to your own presentation and performance at interview.”

Sometimes, yes, but as the song says, it ain’t necessarily so.

I’ve lost count of times the number of times (when in the APS) someone has asked, ‘Is there someone in the job’. I’ll almost always answer with a straight bat and say, ‘yes’ and not editorialise, because in the areas I worked in, you rarely have the luxury of not having the job filled. But the bigger picture may be one of several possibilities, including:

a. Yes, and they are absolutely sh!t hot and you will have to impress the hell out of us to beat this person in direct competition.
b. Yes, but frankly they’re only marginally meeting the selection criteria but mostly on the ‘turn up’ criterion.
c. Yes, but they’re expected to take flight any time soon, but I can’t say that because it’s just water cooler talk and I certainly can’t say it to you, the faceless voice at the end of the phone.

Certainly ask the question, and ask more questions if you get a straight bat like the one I’ve used. Just remember that ‘yes, there’s someone in the seat at the moment’ does not mean abandon all hope.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 5:40 pm 09 Sep 08

Deadmandrinking said :

Why am I being moderated?

My guess is that you went over your links per post quota (one link will get through, two will not without being modded).

Danman said :

I had no idea how to talk the talk – yet for 400 dollars my consultant proved through trade skills that I had the appropriate qualities and skills for a job that bore no relevance to my current line of employment.

Hang on, you paid someone how much to do what? There are vastly less expensive ways of achievesimilar things.

For anyone trying to get into the Public Service applying blind through Selection Criteria:

1) Always ask if someone is already acting in the role.
If they are, you need to be stunning on paper to make it to interview, but then its up to your own presentation and performance at interview.

2) Dont write down what you can’t back up, and avoid namedropping.
(“Can sing underwater, fluent in Bahasa Indonesia, did work experience in the Iemma Minsisterial Office, and are working towards a Cert IV in Government, are you? My sister worked for Morris Iemma… “)

3) Public servants speak a whole other language.
Find an APS6 or higher to proofread if you can, or find a Recruitment company[1](preferably one who has similar jobs open, so they can justify meeting you as work related, or actually size you up for a role) and see if they can give any suggestions.

4) Practice your presentation.
See if you can get a mock-interview with a corporate Recruiter (same process as Step 3, if they can justify it, you both can walk away happy).

5) List with a few recruitment companies around town.
Provide them with your CV, get them to rephrase key bits if they need to (and get them to send you any rewritten copies). This both sets you up for short-ish contract work (See question 1), gets you experience, and upskills you along the way.

6) Broad experience is more valued in more places than specialist experience.
(Unless you’re applying for or have experience specialist areas, then stake your claim to the niche)

[1]: Recruitment companies may seem like a scam, and it is good money for not-very-specialised work. They’ll get a commission (from the employer) for any work they place you into, as well as an extra fee if you get made permanent within a certain period.

Their job is to sell you as a worthwhile candidate to the employer, so like some of the things in antique stores, you might just need some polish or some touching up.
If you need more experience for the job you want, tell them to help you get that experience. If you need more interview acumen, get them to help you acquire it.

For those that need more than a bit of polish and a touch up, well, the higher commission on the other pieces pays for the extra effort.

Canberra is full of them, but some are better than others.

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 5:01 pm 09 Sep 08

Interesting concept Danman. This might sound like a smartarse reply, but does the dude who knocks together your application work on the same basis as those shoddy “Rachael Bird & Co” type companies – No (application) win, no fee?

Danman Danman 4:21 pm 09 Sep 08

I would have done it myself but being a chef I had sweet F A experience in addressing selection criteria.

Coming from an industry where you were chosen on your practical skills and reputation – basically walking the walk.

I had no idea how to talk the talk – yet for 400 dollars my consultant proved through trade skills that I had the appropriate qualities and skills for a job that bore no relevance to my current line of employment.

Basically she was a translator between my relavent skills and jargonising them for the APS. Money well spent.

If you dont have th emoney to pay for these kind of services – then power to ya – do it yourself – but in my position back then I had no options, no APS contacts to run it by – no fresh eyes for a look.

These days I can breeze them in and would not pay anyone to do it, though I would run it past a few EL’s before I released it for review by the panel.

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 3:35 pm 09 Sep 08

No worries DMD. to answer your MOD question, it’s because of the links you (and I) posted.

All is okay at the end of the day 🙂

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