A State by State Guide in Applying for Government Jobs in Australia


Applying for roles within the Australian Public Service (APS) starts with understanding the application requirements specific to each State. 

Make sure your are clear about the specific requirements that go with your resume, such as whether to submit a generic cover letter,  a cover letter that addresses the selection criteria, or a full-form selection criteria where you address each criterion individually. 

Here’s a rundown of the usual application requirements in each Australian State:


Australian Capital Territory – ACT Government 


Where to find jobs: https://www.jobs.act.gov.au/opportunities/all

Requirements: In addition to your resume, you’re also required to submit one of the below (this differs from each Department):

  • a word limited response to about six selection criteria- usually 500 words, 750 words, or 1,000 words
  • a page limited response to the selection criteria – usually 1-2 pages
  • traditional selection criteria – with the criteria as headings and 1-2 paragraphs addressing each criterion

Both word limited and page limited responses are what we refer to as ‘short-form’ applications. These are different from the traditional selection criteria in the sense that, while you still need to address the selection criteria, you don’t have to include the questions and you write/structure it a bit like a cover letter in narrative form.

General instructions:

  • Unless otherwise stated in the ad, avoid sending your resumes, written responses and other supporting documents in pdf
  • Use MS Word format (.doc and .docx) as much as possible
  • Advertised positions close at 11:59 pm on the closing date


New South Wales – NSW Government 


Where to find jobs: https://iworkfor.nsw.gov.au/

Requirements: In addition to your resume, you’re required to submit: 

  • a one to two-page cover letter describing how your experience relates to the role; the cover letter should also highlight your key achievements, capabilities, knowledge and relevant qualifications for the job
  • a short statement against 1-2 targeted questions; this should use the STAR approach and also refer to the behavioural indicators relating to the capability level in the NSW public sector 

General instructions:

  • Keep your resume under five pages, as some Departments have page limit 
  • Resumes should have the name and details of your referees


Northern Territory – NT Gov


Where to find jobs: https://jobs.nt.gov.au/Home/Search

Requirements: In addition to your resume, you’re required to submit: 

  • a one-page statement (usually max of 750 words) that usually tackles a high number of selection criteria questions (around nine questions); however, there’s no need to address each selection criteria items individually, hence, the narrative flow of your statement is very important

General instructions:

  • Be sure to follow the formatting in preparing your response (i.e. 11-point font size)


Queensland – QLD Gov


Where to find jobs: https://smartjobs.qld.gov.au/jobtools/jncustomsearch.jobsearch?in_organid=14904

Requirements: Similar to the ACT Government, in addition to your resume, you’re also required to submit one/combination of the below (this differs from each Department): 

  • a cover letter (or a short statement) – summarises how your experience, abilities, education, skills and personal qualities relate to the requirements of the role, taking into account key responsibilities and attributes; usually 1-2 pages
  • a written application – a written response to set questions relating to the role requirements; uses the STAR approach; usually 1-2 pages
  • a written response – a written response of no more than 2 pages addressing your ability to meet the requirements of the role listed under ‘How will you be assessed’ within the context of the ‘role and responsibilities;’ similar to a cover letter

General instructions:

  • Requirements differ from one role to another, so you need to determine what is uniquely required based on what is listed at the bottom of each job ad
  • Resumes should also have the details of your referees (one of whom should be your current supervisor)
  • Some Departments would prefer that you use their own CV template (for example, QLD Health)
  • Application closes before midnight on the job’s closing date (example, if 22-Jun-2020, this means that the closing date is 11:59PM of 22-Jun-2020)


South Australia – SA Gov


Where to find jobs: https://iworkfor.sa.gov.au/page.php?pageID=842&windowUID=0#report

Requirements: In addition to your resume, you’re required to submit one/combination of the below: 

  • a cover letter – no more than a one-page letter, or a short email that precedes a resume; you should submit one even if the job ad doesn’t specifically ask for one
  • selection criteria – they usually require the full-form, traditional selection criteria where each criterion is used as a title (exactly wording as appeared on the job ad), and under each heading, 1-2 paragraphs explaining how you meet that specific criterion; you also have to list each criterion in the same order as the selection criteria form and indicate whether it is essential or desirable, for example, Good written communication skills (Essential) 
  • a written response – a response to open-ended or targeted questions in the application form 

General instructions:

  • Follow their standard resume formatting guideline (e.g. Arial or Calibri, 10-12 size font, with page numbers in the footer)
  • Make sure to follow their ideal resume length, which is 3-4 pages


Tasmania – Tas Gov


Where to find jobs: https://www.jobs.tas.gov.au

Requirements: In addition to your resume, you’re required to submit one of the below: 

  • a short form application – still addresses the selection criteria but in a cover letter structure; usually up to 2 pages
  • traditional selection criteria – with the criteria as headings and 1-2 paragraphs addressing each criterion

General instructions:

  • No page limit on resumes
  • Determine if you need a short-form application by clicking on the job listing and scrolling down to the bottom of the page to ‘How to apply’ section
  • Some applications will ask for a cover letter to accompany the selection criteria, and some will not
  • Short-form application doesn’t require any cover letter
  • Preview the online application form to determine if there’s a need to copy and paste the responses into pre-allocated sections or whether to upload a Word document using a file upload button


Victoria – Victorian Public Service (VPS) 


Where to find jobs: https://www.careers.vic.gov.au/

Requirements: In addition to your resume, you’re required to submit: 

  • a key selection criteria (KSC) document – this is the traditional selection criteria where you should copy all the criteria from the position description and paste into a Word document under the heading; you need to write short statements (60-120 words) under each criterion with examples of how you meet the criterion

General instructions:

  • Not all roles require the traditional selection criteria document
  • Some roles want a cover letter addressing the selection criteria and why you’re interested in the position
  • Some want responses at 300 words max (instead of 120 words)


Western Australia – WA Gov


Where to find jobs: https://jobs.wa.gov.au/

Similar to QLD Gov, there are a lot of variables in WA Gov because each Department has its own application requirements and procedures. 

For example, some applications will ask you to upload your responses in Word document, while some with require you to copy and paste these. Check the closing date as well. Some WA Gov jobs, such as the Department of Education, close at 4PM WST. Some closes at 5PM WST and some at midnight. 

Generally, our advice is: 

  • Identify the job you’d want to apply for and scroll down to the first page to the ‘How to apply’ section
  • Go the specific Department’s website and check for any special instructions for the applications in terms of the cover letter, resume page length and/or font size
  • Get in touch with Contact Officer is something is unclear 


For answers to your most common questions in writing a long-form or traditional selection criteria, click here. 

If you still have concerns about crafting winning selection criteria, have it written by an expert in Government Selection Criteria writing.

For cover letters, pitches, statements of claims, and other short-form applications, click here

Looking for more job search tips? Click here. 

For more ideas on how to craft a winning resume, visit www.rev-upyourresume.com.au or connect with us through LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.