What APS level role should I apply for? A Guide to Using the ILS Comparative Framework


What APS level role should I apply for?

A Guide to Using the ILS Comparative Framework

We regularly speak to jobseekers who are considering a transition from the private sector to the public sector. Want to know what the most commonly asked question we’re asked is?


How they know what level role they should apply for!   

So, if you’re considering a career transition to the Australian Public Service and you haven’t heard of the ILS,  this article is for you.

Understanding the ILS

The ILS (Integrated Leadership System) is a competency-based framework used in the Australian Public Service to define and assess capabilities across various levels of federal government roles. It provides a standardised set of criteria, and the associated ‘at level’ behaviours that are expected of APS professionals.

It’s no secret that you need to understand this tool.  Not only will it inform a successful written application, it will help you select which level you should target for your job search, or where you need to build skills and capacity as part of your career progression. It’s also used to guide recruitment, development, and performance management processes across the public sector.

That’s right. If you’re new to the APS and not sure how your skills and capabilities align with the levels, this is your cheat sheet.  The ILS can guide you to understand the expectations and responsibilities associated with each level, and help you find the right language to express how your skills align with the desired behavioural indicators on your application.

Unpacking the Comparative Table

Different levels within the APS, such as APS Level 1 to APS Level 6 and Executive Levels, have specific competency expectations outlined in the ILS. To better understand and ‘compare them’, we like to refer clients to this resource. The comparative table presentation provides a structured, comprehensive view of how the different levels are expected to perform against or deliver on set criteria such as supporting productive working relationships, achieving results, or communicating with influence. This detailed breakdown of the skills and behaviours expected at each level helps you assess your own capabilities and determine the appropriate level for your job search or career progression within the Australian government.

For instance, if you’re curious about what harnessing information and opportunities looks like on a day-to-day level, the table outlines the distinctions between the way an APS4 and an APS5 might do this. As an APS4, you need to be able to source information from multiple sources, while an APS5 demonstrates a deeper understanding of where to extract relevant information, how to disseminate it to team members, and uses their broader situational awareness of the organisation to know what is most relevant. 

You can see similar comparisons between levels for receiving and acting on feedback, vs providing feedback and supporting someone else’s development and improvement.

Tailoring Your Pitch Using the ILS Comparative Framework

One of the best things about the ILS Comparative Framework is that it gives you all the answers. 

Yep. The practical application of this tool when crafting pitch documents is huge. 

Instead of getting overwhelmed by the scope of such an extensive framework, we suggest you hone in on the specific competencies outlined in the level of the role you’re eyeing off. Use the language provided in the framework to articulate your skills and experiences, as this will make your pitch document a powerful tool in job applications.

That said, please don’t copy language word for word just for the sake of it, or to ‘beat the ATS bots’. Surprise – it’s not going to work the way you think it will.

Instead, look for opportunities to integrate specific words of phrases into your sentences. It must be natural, and to make it flow can take a bit of finessing. But – it can pay dividends when the reader of your application has those lovely little ‘dings’ as they read your document and identify how closely you align to what they’re looking for!

Leveraging STAR Examples

When we write resumes and pitch documents for our clients, we place a lot of value on incorporating language from the ILS into the STAR examples  That’s because this provides a structured way to showcase your skills and experiences, especially when aiming for specific competency levels.

You might have a specific example in mind for your STAR example (or Hero, as we like to call them!) but, when you pass it through the ILS, you might find your first retelling of the story isn’t putting the right emphasis on the skills outlined for that desired level. Rather than pushing on because ‘it’s a great story that makes you look good!’, look at how you can reframe different parts of this story to emphasise the indicators or capabilities from the right level!

Did you significantly overhaul an internal process? Great. But if that’s not hitting what’s needed at your level, how can you massage the STAR example? Can you lean into the communication elements of that story and how you had to collaborate with IT teams to have applications changes pushed through, or how you had to win over reluctant stakeholders? Can you build in that language, at the right level?

If a bit of a spin just isn’t working, don’t be afraid to scrap it. Start again and look across the ILS comparative framework. Spend time considering any bolded sections at your desired role level and ask yourself if you have a relevant example that ties into those areas.

Taking Control of Your Job Search

In conclusion, the ILS Comparative Framework empowers job seekers who have their sights set on an APS career, to take control of their job search strategy. It serves as a compass, helping you navigate the intricacies of the public sector and make informed decisions about the roles that align with your skills and aspirations. On that note, Compass is the name of our course that teaches other professional resume writers how to write government applications properly. It was developed by Adriana Modersitzki and endorsed by Resume Writers Australia. That means we know government applications, and we know career strategy. So, trust us when we say don’t hesitate to use the ILS as you explore different job opportunities!


Whether you tackle your government applications yourself or engage the help of a professional resume writer from The Elite Collective, the ILS will be your friend. As the resume writers of choice for APS professionals and government departments alike, we know that integrating the ILS into your application process will undoubtedly elevate your chances of landing the right role and finding your best fit.


If you’d like support writing your resume and crafting your application, we’d love to support your next career move. You can find our transparent pricing and FAQ here. If you’re looking to read and understand the process further, check out our blog on How to Apply for a Government Job.


Adriana Modersitzki

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *