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Finding government jobs recruiting websites may not be as easy as you’d think. It’s just searching on the Internet isn’t it? Yes and no.

Finding a government job is not as easy as it might seem

So why did I answer ‘yes and no’ as the answer to it’s just searching on the Internet?

Yes because it is just searching on the Internet.

No because it assumes you know the language you’re searching in.

That’s what I want to talk about in this blog

Government Language and how it impacts Finding Government Job

You’re hopefully unsurprised that government has a language all of it’s own.

A lot of positions are simply called either ‘manager’, or ‘principal advisor’, or ‘senior adviser’, or ‘advisor’ but without any other descriptors as to what they manage or advise on.

If they’re not terms you’re familiar with, you look at it and think “What is a principal advisor?”

Like all things that go full circle from the old to the new to the old again, government position naming has undergone some changes over time and it currently sits under the theory of make everything very broad.

That’s neither good not bad if you know about it, it is just what it is.

Roles that used to be called “Principal Advisor (Investigations) or Senor Policy Advisor, are tending to being simply Principal Advisor or Senior Advisor – without the descriptor of what they do

Setting Up Searches to Find Government Jobs

Broad Searches

This language impacts setting up searches on government job websites.

You may be looking for a logistics role, or an investigation role, or an web developer role, or something like that but, the actual position you might be able to apply for might simply be called “principal advisor”.

So…particularly in the early days when you’re setting up your searches in the hope of finding government jobs, make sure they’re broad.

Focus on the location you want, and, the pay you need/classification you’re aiming at.

Based on the search results you get, go in and read the roles and get familiar with the language.

Have a look at some of the manager, principal advisor, or, senior advisor type roles and look at what they are, and, what they expect

Keyword Searches

Definitely also set up keyword searches for the specific type of role, in addition to the broad searches mentioned just above.  

Set up your keyword searches on just the keywords, don’t worry about location or pay or what they’re called.

If you want to find an investigation role, have a keyword search on just investigation. When you get results go in and read them.  Same if you want an web developer role, set up a search with one keyphrase “web developer”

Refining Searches

Once you feel you’ve got a handle on what’s coming in – and it will be more than you want – then begin to refine your searches based on what you’ve learned.

It is far far better to get too many search results, read them and refine the searches than it is to miss out on a job you’re looking for and able to win competitive.


A word on classifications. Every state and the federal government have their own classification system, so being from Queensland I’ll use that as the example and link the others below.

These shouldn’t impact you finding government jobs as generally you can search without using these filters, so this is informational only.

Government jobs will be classified according to scales established in Awards and Enterprise Bargaining Agreements. Classifications will look like:

  • AO5
  • AO8
  • SO1
  • SES2
  • PO3
  • PO5

The letters designate the stream – in the list above:

  • AO is administrate stream,
  • SO and SES are executive (S for Senior) roles,
  • PO are professional officers – roles that require degree qualifications

The numbers determine the level:

  • AO2
  • AO3
  • …..
  • AO8

AO2 is a base level role, AO8 is the top of the stream.

Over time, the title (senior advisor) and the classification have tended to merge.  It’s a rule of thumb, not gospel that:

  • Director = SO
  • Manager = AO8
  • Principal Advisor = AO7
  • Senior Advisor = AO6
  • Advisor = AO5

To find the Award or Agreement that relates to your jurisdiction (state or federal government) have a look here.

Government Competency Frameworks

I’ve talked about the dry Weet Bix that are government competency frameworks, and why they are really important in this blog.

The key takeaway from that blog is that the frameworks contain the answers you need to give to address a selection criteria. It’s worth a read.


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