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Fact sheet 10: Frequently asked questions

How do I get an APS job?

Depending on your skills, abilities, experience and preferred employment arrangements, options for getting a job include:

  • applying directly for jobs advertised in newspapers, on agency websites, on the APS Employment Gazette (www.APSjobs.gov.au) or on websites such as www.jobsearch.gov.au.
  • applying for school leaver programmes, traineeships, cadetships or graduate programmes
  • registering on a temporary employment register for the opportunity to be selected for short term jobs. These registers are available online on some APS agency websites, and through recruitment companies.

Take the time to check all the required information when applying for an APS job. With each job opportunity there may be particular requirements, such as submitting your CV, providing a written application including addressing selection criteria, or going for an interview.

Do I have to be an Australian citizen?

It is generally expected that people will be Australian citizens to work in the APS, however APS agencies may choose to employ non-citizens with the relevant work permits. If you are not an Australian citizen, you will need to have a traceable history, which will include employment and background checks for security clearance purposes. If you see a job advertised which you are interested in, call the contact officer to discuss your options for applying for the job.

Why does the recruitment process take longer for APS jobs than other jobs?

Each APS agency handles their own recruitment, and some may advise you of the recruitment outcome sooner than others. People are selected for APS jobs on the basis of merit, which means we look for evidence of your skills, experience, abilities and how well they fit the requirements of the job, compared with other applicants. This comparison may be based on your CV, a written application addressing the selection criteria, and/or an interview. Because of this, the recruitment process may take longer for APS jobs than other jobs. When applying for an APS job, you can ask the contact officer about the expected timeframe for announcing that the job has been filled.

What sort of agreement will I be employed under?

Employment conditions for APS employees are generally covered by the recruiting department or agency's Collective Agreement. It is a federal workplace agreement that covers the terms and conditions of employment (e.g. remuneration and other entitlements such as personal leave) in that department or agency. Collective Agreements are available on the Workplace Authority website at www.workplaceauthority.gov.au and are also commonly available on the department or agency's website.

What does a security clearance involve?

A security clearance involves pre-employment and background checks. Some jobs require a security clearance because of the type of issues/information dealt with in the job. The timeframe for starting a job may be longer, depending on the level of security clearance that is required for the job.

Do I have to go through a graduate programme to get a job?

If you have graduated from university, you can apply for APS jobs by:

  • applying to graduate programmes which are run by individual agencies. Graduates are commonly appointed at the APS 3-4 classification level.
  • applying directly for jobs advertised in the newspaper, on agency websites, in the APS Employment Gazette (www.APSjobs.gov.au) or on sites such as jobsearch.gov.au. The APS 3-4 classification level may be suitable for people with a degree and no experience. For those people with work experience and a degree, the APS 5-6 classification level may be more appropriate.

What happens after I am told that I got the job?

If you are successful in winning an APS job, you will be subject to some engagement conditions, which means you must meet particular requirements to be appointed to the job. These requirements may include some or all of the following:

  • being an Australian citizen
  • security clearance
  • health clearance
  • character clearance (may include police check)
  • a period of probation
  • meeting all of the requirements of the employing agency’s entry level training programme.

Probation will involve a period of time where your performance and suitability for the job is assessed. Once the probationary period has been completed, your performance will continue to be assessed regularly.

Do I need a degree or lots of experience to get a job in the APS?

Some jobs require specific experience or qualifications, but many don’t. It comes down to the skills required for the job. Some key skills for the APS include communication, problem solving and analytical skills. Your skills can be drawn from school, work, study, committees, volunteering, and community events.

Why can’t I get an interview?

If you are having difficulty getting an interview, ask yourself:

  • am I going for the right job for my skills and abilities?
  • am I providing all the required information in my application?
  • am I preparing a good application which demonstrates my skills, abilities and experience and how they relate to the requirements of the job?