Mandy Murray is the Manager of Workforce and Development with the Office of the Auditor General for WA. The Office has a unique role as the external auditor of the WA Public Sector and has undertaken an annual graduate program for financial auditors for more than 40 years. Mandy has been involved in the graduate recruitment process since joining the Office in 2006. Here are her top tips for applying for jobs in the public sector:
- Carefully read the advertisement. Thoroughly. Read anything else that is provided too, such as a job description form and/or application kit. Take note of any application instructions. BUT, don’t make your decision to apply for the job at this point…
- Research. Use the website to find out about the organisation. Get in touch with the contact person provided (usually the Line Manager of the position) and ask intelligent questions that reflect that you have read everything and done a bit of research already. You can ask how long the organisation’s process generally takes but they may not be able to provide exact information. Take note of the responses. If you know anyone with experience with the organisation, talk to them. THEN make your decision about whether the organisation, the contact person and the role are right for you.
- Tailor your resume. You should already have an up to date skeleton that you can build up to reflect the relevance of your experience to the job you are applying for. It’s really important to match to your resume to every role you apply for, a generic ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach won’t make you stand out. Use the notes you have taken from your research to inform your content and always include referees if requested.
- Write your statement of claims, address to selection criteria or covering letter with a focus on how your experience can be transferred into this role. Don’t underestimate your experience – you’ll have skills from casual jobs, your studies, work experience, team activities and previous professional employment. Remember to use the spelling and grammar check.
- Get someone else to read all of your application paperwork. After spending a little while on your application, you’re not likely to pick up mistakes. Take any feedback on board and make the changes.
- Submit on time. The process you follow is indicative of how you will work. So if you can’t follow instructions before you work somewhere, you’re not likely to get the chance to work there…
- If you are shortlisted for interview, do not respond by asking which of the many jobs you have applied for the caller is asking about (this happens more than you’d think). Take notes about the interview times and any details given. You can ask who is on the panel and what the interview will consist of. You should be given at least two days’ notice to prepare.
- Show up on time for the interview. Don’t leave things to chance, make sure you know exactly where you need to go in advance and how to get there. Give yourself a bit of additional time to sit quietly and calm yourself before going in. You can take material – such as your resume etc. with you for your own reference. Remember, to take anything else you have been asked to provide with you too.
- Generally, prior to interview, you will get the questions which will be asked and time to prepare your responses. Take your time and read everything through. Then start dot pointing memory joggers of your best example response. If there is a written or technical test to be completed it should be clearly marked, with details of what is required (that’s why it’s important that you read through everything first).
- Don’t make multiple follow-up calls. One is enough – once the process has commenced there is little information that can be given excepting the stage that the process has reached. If you are unsuccessful at any stage, feedback will only be available at the end of the process.
Finally, at the end of the process, all applicants are advised of their success or not by letter or electronically through the RAMS system. A contact will be offered to give you feedback. Take the opportunity to call and get it, if you don’t know what you did wrong or why you weren’t suitable or competitive, you can’t correct it for the next time.