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Circular 2018/5 – SES Recruitment

The changes to SES recruitment practices outlined in this Circular have the support of Secretaries and were agreed at the meeting of the Secretaries Board on 5 December 2018.

Agencies are asked to follow these processes from 1 February 2019

Where appropriate, the Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Direction 2016 will be amended to support these changes.

Templates to asssist with the SES recruitment process can be found witth the HR practitioner's guide to SES engagement, promotion, mobility, and separation

Notify intention to advertise SES Band 3 vacancies

Where an agency identifies a vacancy at the SES Band 3 level, advance notice is to be provided to the Australian Public Service Commissioner (the Commissioner). Where possible, notice should be provided one month before advertising the vacancy.

Advice should be in the form of an email sent to the Commissioner at staffingpolicy [at] apsc.gov.au and include:

  • the role title;
  • a brief job description;
  • the scope of the role including deliverables; and
  • the proposed date of advertising.

Where there are opportunities for joint recruitment processes, agencies will be advised, and relevant Secretaries and Agency Heads can choose to be involved in a shared selection process.

Advance notice also provides an opportunity for consultation with Chairs of the Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries Talent Council, to identify development opportunities.

Review merit lists for all similar* SES vacancies

Prior to notifying SES vacancies in the Public Service Gazette, agencies already provide details of upcoming SES vacancies to the Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission), so that the Commission can conduct a check of the SES Redeployment Register.

Agencies send this information to staffingpolicy [at] apsc.gov.au.

At the time of providing this information, agencies are now asked to also advise the Commission that current merit lists for similar vacancies have been identified and reviewed. 

Agencies can currently search for similar vacancies using APSjobs. 

There is no obligation for an agency to make an offer of employment to any person on a merit list, including in circumstances where additional information has been sought for a particular candidate. Agencies will not be required to provide the Commission with reasons for a decision not to use an existing merit list. 

The Commission will develop a more centralised process for sharing SES merit lists, and further advice will be provided in due course.

Commissioner’s representative 

For all SES Band 3 vacancies, agencies are expected to invite the Commissioner to participate in the selection process. If the Commissioner is not available to participate, he will nominate a representative, or request that the agency propose a suitable person. 

For all other SES vacancies, the agency will propose a Commissioner’s representative.

An agency will require the Commissioner’s approval of the proposed representative, prior to the commencement of the selection process.

To seek the Commissioner’s approval, agencies are asked to email the representative’s name, agency and classification to staffingpolicy [at] apsc.gov.au

Current guidelines for SES recruitment provide that the Commissioner’s representative should, where possible: 

  • be an APS employee;
  • be from a portfolio outside the advertising agency’s portfolio; 
  • contribute to gender balance; and 
  • be at a substantive classification level above the advertised position.

Notify the outcome of all SES selection processes 

Agencies are asked to notify the Commissioner of the outcome of all SES recruitment processes. 

Advice should be in the form of an email sent to staffingpolicy [at] apsc.gov.au and include the endorsement of the Commissioner’s representative and a copy of the selection report signed by the delegate.

It is anticipated that during the course of next year, agencies will be asked to provide more detailed information in relation to successful applicants for SES roles. This will enable the Commission to build a more comprehensive data base on SES capability.

Further advice will be provided in due course.

More information

The Commission’s website will be updated to reflect these changes, and advice in relation to any further changes will be issued as required.

Any queries relating to the processes outlined above can be directed to the Commission’s Staffing Policy team at staffingpolicy [at] apsc.gov.au.

Peter Woolcott AO
Australian Public Service Commissioner
19 December 2018


*The legislative definition of a similar vacancy can be found at section 9 of the Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2016.