How to Apply for a Government Job 

How to Apply for a Government Job by The Elite Collective

Applying for a government role can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! At Elite, we have created a four-step process for applying for government positions that work well. 


We now teach others how to write competitive application documents for government vacancies.   

Four steps to writing a successful writing application

Step 1: Review the job ad and position description 


Start by reading the government job advertisement and all attachments, such as the position description. If you’re a paper person, we highly recommend printing each document and getting your pens and highlighters ready! (For those more digitally inclined, download each pdf and prepare your virtual highlighters and comment boxes).   


When you are reading these documents, search for and make a note of information that answers these questions:  


  • Why does this role exist? What is the purpose of the position? How does this position align with the government’s or department overall vision?  
  • What job level is this role, and what department is this for? Is now the right time for you to become a manager, or would you prefer a team member position?  
  • Do the job’s purpose and vision align with your career motivation, skills and experience?  
  • What skills and qualifications are required and desirable for the vacancy?  
  • Which skills or qualifications do you not have yet? (We’ve provided advice on how to apply for jobs when you don’t meet all of the criteria previously).
Answering these questions will ensure you have gathered all the relevant information needed to include in your application documents.   

Step 2: Confirm how you need to apply

Each government application has different requirements. You must read closely to ensure you submit not only the requested documents but that they contain the necessary information and are the correct length.   


In our experience, sometimes the documents about the job vacancy may have conflicting information – the position description asked for a 1000-word pitch. In contrast, the job ad wants a one-page cover letter. If you find yourself in this situation, we recommend contacting the person listed in the advertisement as soon as possible to clarify which approach they want you to submit. This will not only give you enough time to write the correct documents, but it will also show your attention to detail and communication skills!   Here are some everyday things to look for when seeking to understand how to apply for the role:  


  • Where does the application need to be submitted? Is it via email, a portal or another method?  
  • What is the application closing date and time? (This is particularly important to note if you are applying from a different time zone or there is a public holiday).   
  • If a resume is required, is there a particular length listed? Are there any specific qualifications, skills or other information requested to be included on the resume?  
  • Does the process require referee details to be included in the application submission or later in the process?  
  • Pitch, statement of claims, selection criteria or cover letter – does the application require any of these documents?   
  • Does the job advertisement request any other documentation or information? 


When writing for our clients, we gather all this information upfront to provide accurate quotations and timeframes to write the application documents. When writing for yourself, this information will help you to map out deadlines to finish writing each document.  

Step 3: Add the secret sauce

No matter the level of government or type of role you are applying for, there is a secret to writing relatable, competitive application documents. This often overlooked information is known by various names across different government areas, but it is most commonly referred to as Leadership Standards or Capability Frameworks.  

Federal Government

State Government

State governments all have their variation of this framework. We’ve listed each state and territory’s framework for you below in alphabetical order. 


Local Government

When applying for Local government positions, if a link to their Leadership Standards or Capability Framework is not provided in the job advertisement, search their website for the framework they use.

Using the framework in your application

So why are these frameworks important? Because they will help you to demonstrate not just WHAT you have achieved but HOW you earned it – and the ‘how’ is the secret sauce that makes you stand out compared to another applicant with the same skills and experience. 


Once you have found the relevant framework for your vacancy, find your job level and highlight keywords, phrases and skills. You must include these attributes in each application document to show how you work.   


Be cautious, however, as no one enjoys reading documents full of keywords; the page could be a game of keyword bingo! Instead, pick several words or phrases that relate directly to your experience. And focus on these rather than trying to fit every keyword into your application.   

Step 4: Put it all together and get writing!

Now that you’re clear on how to apply, how your skills and experience match the vacancy and the secret sauce of any government application, it’s time to get writing! We highly recommend that you set aside an hour or two, lock yourself away from distractions and put pen to paper.  


If the most challenging part of writing for you is starting, then why not try using one of these sentence starters to get the ball rolling: 

10 sentence starters to get writing

Stuck writing your government application?

Wondering about the cost of resume writing services?

Unsure if working with a professional resume writer is worth it?

Reach out to us today to discover how our team of professional resume writers can help you stand out.

We know that writing about yourself can be tricky, particularly when applying for a job outside your comfort zone. So why not 
get in touch today to discuss how we can help you tailor your resume, cover letter or selection criteria for a government job? 


And for those who have already made it to a government interview – congratulations!! These are highly competitive jobs. If you haven’t been part of a government-style interview or would like to refresh your skills, check out our article on the Top Five Most Common Interview Questions or book an Interview Coaching Session with us to boost your confidence today.  


Our team of professional resume writers are located across Australia, specifically in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney. We have clients from Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and across all areas of Australia who rave about our professional resume writing services, job application support and interview coaching.

Will you be the next success story we celebrate? 


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  1. Pingback: What APS level role should I apply for? A guide to using the ILS

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