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Tips for your application

This page will provide you with some handy tips and advice to help guide you in applying for a position with council. Good luck with your application!

  • Preparing your application

    Council selection panels assess applications based on your cover letter, resume and responses to key selection criteria (KSC). You must also demonstrate that you meet all the mandatory position specific requirements in your application.

    By submitting a well-structured application addressing the KSC and mandatory position specific requirements, you substantially increase your chances of being shortlisted for an interview.

  • Writing a cover letter

    The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to council and demonstrate your interest in the position you are applying for.

    This letter should be a short summary demonstrating how your skills, knowledge, experience and qualifications make you the perfect fit for the role. It provides a valuable snapshot of what you have to offer as a potential employee.

    It should be about one page long and summarise your key skills and experience for the job.

    Your letter should be structured in a logical way and include the following details:

    • Contact details – Include your name, address, telephone and/or mobile numbers, and email address
    • Date and council details
    • Position details – Include the position title and position number.
    • Introduction – Write about why you are interested in the role. In a sentence or two, explain why you are the best candidate for the job – try to convince the employer that you can do the job, that you will fit in and be an asset to Council.
    • Body – Demonstrate how you meet the mandatory and desirable position specific requirements of the role. When outlining the position requirements in your cover letter, you will be required to title each requirement so that your suitability for the position is clear to the selection panel to determine your suitability for the position.
    • Conclusion – Thank the reader for their time and consideration and indicate your availability for an interview. Also mention attachments including your resume, key selection criteria statement and any other supporting documents.

    Pay attention to writing style, spelling, grammar and punctuation.

    A clear writing style will ensure your letter is easily understood by the reader. It is important to be concise while still giving enough detail. To do this, cut out unnecessary words, avoid jargon and avoid overly complex sentences. Be positive in content, tone and word choice.

    Make sure there are no spelling, grammar or punctuation errors as these detract from the quality of your letter. You may like to get a friend to read over the letter for you.

    PRO TIP: While it can be painful to work out what to include and how to start, cover letters are important because they give you the opportunity to show a bit of personality and highlight information that you believe makes you an ideal employee.

    Download our cover letter template here

  • Resume tips

    A resume provides a summary of your skills, employment history, experience, knowledge and abilities relevant to the position you are applying for.

    In a resume it is important to demonstrate your achievements, what you have learned, and the commitment level involved.

    By describing your achievements, we will get a clearer picture of what you did to develop the skills and whether you have the qualities and experience we are looking for.

    Before submitting any application, you should ask yourself, “Have I made it as easy as possible for this employer to see that I’m qualified?”. If you’re applying for a position that has unique requirements, you may need another version of your resume to fully demonstrate your qualifications. Decide on a case by case basis which resume to use.

    Your resume should include your:

    • Name
    • Address and contact details – phone number(s) and email
    • Employment history – start with your most recent position and work backwards, include all relevant work history, including volunteering and work experience (if relevant).
    • Education and qualifications – a brief summary of your education and qualifications, including the name of the institution where you studied, the course title and the date completed. Also include any tickets, licences and training courses you have completed. Ensure you can produce documentary evidence of any formal qualifications required for the position.
    • Demonstrated skills – this may include information about your ability to use relevant software programs – indicate if your skills are basic, intermediate or advanced.
    • Special achievements – highlight any special achievements, such as community work, volunteering, prizes or awards.
    • Referees – contact details of at least two referees who can support your claims in relation to the position. Make sure your referees know they may be contacted and have details about the role you are applying for.

    PRO TIP: Your resume is often the first step to securing an interview with an employer. Make sure you include the most relevant information on your resume, organise it to highlight the most important information and carefully review for errors.

  • What are Key Selection Criteria (KSC)

    The Key Selection Criteria outline the qualities, knowledge and skills needed to do the job. You will need to write short statements that sell your specific capabilities for each of the criterion. It is important to include specific examples or situations where you have demonstrated the behaviour, knowledge, skills and personal qualities asked for in the KSC.

    We assess all candidates for our jobs fairly and consistently and make selections based on merit. We do this by using the KSC given to all candidates to assess their ability to perform in a role. KSC are clearly outlined in the Position Description/job advertisement so you know what’s required.

    Please note: Your application will not be progressed if you fail to submit responses to the required KSC.

    Describing how you meet KSC ensures we capture all information about your suitability for a position. KSC vary among employers and jobs. Traditionally, they are statements combining skills, knowledge, experience and personal qualities.

    For example:
    “Ability to develop and maintain systems and processes for mail distribution and storage of publications and brochures”
    “Ability to work under pressure, prioritise tasks, meet deadlines and remain tolerant”

    Increasingly, KSC are based on key capabilities.
    For example:
    ‘Resilience – Perseveres to achieve goals, even in the face of obstacles. Copes with setbacks. Stays calm under pressure. Accepts constructive criticism without becoming defensive.’
    ‘Problem Solving – Seeks all relevant facts. Liaises with stakeholders. Analyses issues from different perspectives and draws sound inferences from available data. Identifies and proposes workable solutions.’

     

  • How to respond to the KSC

    No matter how KSC appear, you respond to them the same way:

    1. Read and reread the advertisement, KSC and Position Description.
    2. Print or save the Job Details, Position Description, so you can easily refer to it later.
    3. Highlight key words in the first KSC and think about what the employer is asking for.
    4. List examples of how you meet the KSC. Describe relevant skills, experience, incidents, training, personal qualities, expertise and things you couldn’t have done without all these.
    5. Review your list and summarise, in 60-120 words, how you demonstrated the KSC.
    6. Repeat Steps 3 to 5 for the remaining KSC.

    The SAO approach can help:

    Situation – Where and when did you do it?

    Action – What did you do and how did you do it?

    Outcome – What was the result of your actions?

    Create a separate document titled ‘Key Selection Criteria Statement’ and type all selection criteria exactly as written. This forms the headings to provide the relevant information. Keep the layout simple and use bullet points or short sentences to respond. Two or three paragraphs is usually enough to address each. Be factual and positive, without exaggerating or even down-playing your capabilities and experience.

    A word of encouragement – This may seem unfamiliar and a bit awkward to begin with, but around 60% of government jobs are filled by people not currently working in government organisations. And doing it this way ensures you’re considered fairly along with all other candidates.

  • Examples of KSC responses

    See below for three examples of KSC responses.

    1. Problem Solving – Seeks all relevant facts. Liaises with stakeholders. Analyses issues from different perspectives and draws sound inferences from available data. Identifies and proposes workable solutions.

    “Problem solving has been a critical part of my roles over the past five years. While working as Customer Complaints Officer at Acme Department Stores, I dealt with a variety of problems. While many could be resolved easily, 2-3 per week were more complex and required a detailed process to resolve. I had to investigate what had happened from the staff and customer’s points of view, clarify the facts and work out what had gone wrong and why. I then had to propose suitable solutions and negotiate a mutually satisfactory outcome. I was often commended by my manager for my sensitive handling and speedy resolution of these problems. Less than 1% of complaints had to be escalated”

    1. Advanced Computer Skills – Uses a wide range of software features for word processing, spreadsheets, etc. Helps others solve problems with software.

    “As Personal Assistant to the Marketing Manager at SYZ Enterprises, about half my time was spent preparing letters and reports for clients using Word. I used detailed information in Excel spreadsheets to prepare graphs and tables to demonstrate the results of our market research and to analyse client company performance. I often prepared major PowerPoint presentations for my manager and maintained a database of her contacts. I also managed many daily emails and searched for information on the Internet to answer questions”

    1. Sound communication, interpersonal and negotiating skills, including well-developed written and oral skills  and the ability to develop and deliver interpretation and education services.

    “In my 5 years as a teacher, strong communication, negotiation and interpersonal skills have been essential. I have dealt with a wide range of people, including parents, colleagues and students. I was involved in a community project where I co-wrote a booklet on helping child learn and have fun. As part of this project, I led successful negotiations with the Local Council and three schools in the area who agreed to run a series of weekend family science programs for kids in the area”

    PRO TIP: Writing a good KSC response statement is invaluable in preparing you for the interview stage of the selection process. Now that you have specific examples you will be better prepared to answer questions about your ability to do the job. Make sure you check your KSC statement for spelling and grammar.

  • Competency Handbook

    This handbook is to be read in conjunction with your Position Description, providing further information on the council’s core competencies.

Council selection panels assess applications based on your cover letter, resume and responses to key selection criteria (KSC). You must also demonstrate that you meet all the mandatory position specific requirements in your application.

By submitting a well-structured application addressing the KSC and mandatory position specific requirements, you substantially increase your chances of being shortlisted for an interview.

The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to council and demonstrate your interest in the position you are applying for.

This letter should be a short summary demonstrating how your skills, knowledge, experience and qualifications make you the perfect fit for the role. It provides a valuable snapshot of what you have to offer as a potential employee.

It should be about one page long and summarise your key skills and experience for the job.

Your letter should be structured in a logical way and include the following details:

  • Contact details – Include your name, address, telephone and/or mobile numbers, and email address
  • Date and council details
  • Position details – Include the position title and position number.
  • Introduction – Write about why you are interested in the role. In a sentence or two, explain why you are the best candidate for the job – try to convince the employer that you can do the job, that you will fit in and be an asset to Council.
  • Body – Demonstrate how you meet the mandatory and desirable position specific requirements of the role. When outlining the position requirements in your cover letter, you will be required to title each requirement so that your suitability for the position is clear to the selection panel to determine your suitability for the position.
  • Conclusion – Thank the reader for their time and consideration and indicate your availability for an interview. Also mention attachments including your resume, key selection criteria statement and any other supporting documents.

Pay attention to writing style, spelling, grammar and punctuation.

A clear writing style will ensure your letter is easily understood by the reader. It is important to be concise while still giving enough detail. To do this, cut out unnecessary words, avoid jargon and avoid overly complex sentences. Be positive in content, tone and word choice.

Make sure there are no spelling, grammar or punctuation errors as these detract from the quality of your letter. You may like to get a friend to read over the letter for you.

PRO TIP: While it can be painful to work out what to include and how to start, cover letters are important because they give you the opportunity to show a bit of personality and highlight information that you believe makes you an ideal employee.

Download our cover letter template here

A resume provides a summary of your skills, employment history, experience, knowledge and abilities relevant to the position you are applying for.

In a resume it is important to demonstrate your achievements, what you have learned, and the commitment level involved.

By describing your achievements, we will get a clearer picture of what you did to develop the skills and whether you have the qualities and experience we are looking for.

Before submitting any application, you should ask yourself, “Have I made it as easy as possible for this employer to see that I’m qualified?”. If you’re applying for a position that has unique requirements, you may need another version of your resume to fully demonstrate your qualifications. Decide on a case by case basis which resume to use.

Your resume should include your:

  • Name
  • Address and contact details – phone number(s) and email
  • Employment history – start with your most recent position and work backwards, include all relevant work history, including volunteering and work experience (if relevant).
  • Education and qualifications – a brief summary of your education and qualifications, including the name of the institution where you studied, the course title and the date completed. Also include any tickets, licences and training courses you have completed. Ensure you can produce documentary evidence of any formal qualifications required for the position.
  • Demonstrated skills – this may include information about your ability to use relevant software programs – indicate if your skills are basic, intermediate or advanced.
  • Special achievements – highlight any special achievements, such as community work, volunteering, prizes or awards.
  • Referees – contact details of at least two referees who can support your claims in relation to the position. Make sure your referees know they may be contacted and have details about the role you are applying for.

PRO TIP: Your resume is often the first step to securing an interview with an employer. Make sure you include the most relevant information on your resume, organise it to highlight the most important information and carefully review for errors.

The Key Selection Criteria outline the qualities, knowledge and skills needed to do the job. You will need to write short statements that sell your specific capabilities for each of the criterion. It is important to include specific examples or situations where you have demonstrated the behaviour, knowledge, skills and personal qualities asked for in the KSC.

We assess all candidates for our jobs fairly and consistently and make selections based on merit. We do this by using the KSC given to all candidates to assess their ability to perform in a role. KSC are clearly outlined in the Position Description/job advertisement so you know what’s required.

Please note: Your application will not be progressed if you fail to submit responses to the required KSC.

Describing how you meet KSC ensures we capture all information about your suitability for a position. KSC vary among employers and jobs. Traditionally, they are statements combining skills, knowledge, experience and personal qualities.

For example:
“Ability to develop and maintain systems and processes for mail distribution and storage of publications and brochures”
“Ability to work under pressure, prioritise tasks, meet deadlines and remain tolerant”

Increasingly, KSC are based on key capabilities.
For example:
‘Resilience – Perseveres to achieve goals, even in the face of obstacles. Copes with setbacks. Stays calm under pressure. Accepts constructive criticism without becoming defensive.’
‘Problem Solving – Seeks all relevant facts. Liaises with stakeholders. Analyses issues from different perspectives and draws sound inferences from available data. Identifies and proposes workable solutions.’

 

No matter how KSC appear, you respond to them the same way:

  1. Read and reread the advertisement, KSC and Position Description.
  2. Print or save the Job Details, Position Description, so you can easily refer to it later.
  3. Highlight key words in the first KSC and think about what the employer is asking for.
  4. List examples of how you meet the KSC. Describe relevant skills, experience, incidents, training, personal qualities, expertise and things you couldn’t have done without all these.
  5. Review your list and summarise, in 60-120 words, how you demonstrated the KSC.
  6. Repeat Steps 3 to 5 for the remaining KSC.

The SAO approach can help:

Situation – Where and when did you do it?

Action – What did you do and how did you do it?

Outcome – What was the result of your actions?

Create a separate document titled ‘Key Selection Criteria Statement’ and type all selection criteria exactly as written. This forms the headings to provide the relevant information. Keep the layout simple and use bullet points or short sentences to respond. Two or three paragraphs is usually enough to address each. Be factual and positive, without exaggerating or even down-playing your capabilities and experience.

A word of encouragement – This may seem unfamiliar and a bit awkward to begin with, but around 60% of government jobs are filled by people not currently working in government organisations. And doing it this way ensures you’re considered fairly along with all other candidates.

See below for three examples of KSC responses.

  1. Problem Solving – Seeks all relevant facts. Liaises with stakeholders. Analyses issues from different perspectives and draws sound inferences from available data. Identifies and proposes workable solutions.

“Problem solving has been a critical part of my roles over the past five years. While working as Customer Complaints Officer at Acme Department Stores, I dealt with a variety of problems. While many could be resolved easily, 2-3 per week were more complex and required a detailed process to resolve. I had to investigate what had happened from the staff and customer’s points of view, clarify the facts and work out what had gone wrong and why. I then had to propose suitable solutions and negotiate a mutually satisfactory outcome. I was often commended by my manager for my sensitive handling and speedy resolution of these problems. Less than 1% of complaints had to be escalated”

  1. Advanced Computer Skills – Uses a wide range of software features for word processing, spreadsheets, etc. Helps others solve problems with software.

“As Personal Assistant to the Marketing Manager at SYZ Enterprises, about half my time was spent preparing letters and reports for clients using Word. I used detailed information in Excel spreadsheets to prepare graphs and tables to demonstrate the results of our market research and to analyse client company performance. I often prepared major PowerPoint presentations for my manager and maintained a database of her contacts. I also managed many daily emails and searched for information on the Internet to answer questions”

  1. Sound communication, interpersonal and negotiating skills, including well-developed written and oral skills  and the ability to develop and deliver interpretation and education services.

“In my 5 years as a teacher, strong communication, negotiation and interpersonal skills have been essential. I have dealt with a wide range of people, including parents, colleagues and students. I was involved in a community project where I co-wrote a booklet on helping child learn and have fun. As part of this project, I led successful negotiations with the Local Council and three schools in the area who agreed to run a series of weekend family science programs for kids in the area”

PRO TIP: Writing a good KSC response statement is invaluable in preparing you for the interview stage of the selection process. Now that you have specific examples you will be better prepared to answer questions about your ability to do the job. Make sure you check your KSC statement for spelling and grammar.

This handbook is to be read in conjunction with your Position Description, providing further information on the council’s core competencies.

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