Fact sheet 1 : The big picture

Last updated: 11 May 2012

This page is: current

Get the facts

So you think you want to work in the APS but don’t know much about us

In Australia, the public sector includes local, state and territory and federal government agencies. The APS is the federal public service and consists of a large number of organisations, each focusing on specific areas like communication, defence, finance, environment, education and training, health and community services, workplace relations, immigration, science, tourism, transport and so on. In addition, there are also a range of statutory and executive agencies which work on issues at the national level. Behind almost every facet of life in Australia is an APS job.

In the know…tips and hints

APS organisations are referred to as agencies or departments. This guide uses the term agency.

Why should you work with us

  • We offer great working conditions including good salaries, excellent leave conditions, and flexible work practices (including the option of negotiating your work hours).
  • The APS has a range of career opportunities, while also providing the scope for you to easily change career direction at any time. So you can start in an administrative support or client service role and then develop your skills for managerial, technical or professional careers. The APS supports professional and personal development, further study, career and leadership development.
  • The APS has jobs across the country and across-the-board, as well as overseas. Our workforce includes accountants, biologists, customer service officers, policy advisers, graphic designers, lawyers, IT specialists and contract managers to name a few.
  • We provide the opportunity for you to pursue your interests while contributing to the Australian community. It may be as part of a large agency providing a broad range of services across the country or in a small agency working on specialised issues in one sector of society. The choice is yours.
  • We value and encourage supportive workplace environments based on fair and equitable treatment. How we work and treat each other is governed by the APS Values and Code of Conduct.

In the know…tips and hints

There is no standard process for filling APS jobs. The application process can vary greatly between agencies, and jobs. The only requirement is that recruitment decisions be based on merit.

Find out more

What are the APS Values and Code of Conduct?

The APS Values and Code of Conduct apply to all APS employees, and contribute to the integrity and professionalism of the public service. The Values and Code of Conduct guide how we act in our relationships with the government, parliament, the public and colleagues. The Code of Conduct sets the standards of personal behaviour expected of APS employees. For more information see the APS Values and Code of Conduct page.

When applying for an APS job you may be asked to demonstrate how you would uphold the Values. Describing how you have acted and behaved in previous employment or other areas of your life is a good way of showing you understand the Values and Code of Conduct.

What is merit?

We recruit staff based on merit, which means that from a field of applicants, we need to select the best person for the job. To do this we compare and weigh-up the skills, experience and abilities of each candidate. We use different tools and techniques, such as written applications, interviews and/or work-sample tests, to collect the evidence we need to make a merit-based decision.

Myth vs reality: APS managers are mostly men in grey cardigans

Promotion to management positions is based on your skills and abilities, not your age, gender or how long you’ve worked in the APS. Forty-two percent of APS managers are women, and 35% of senior executives are women. Just over half of our managers are aged under 45 years.