Original on Transparent

You may never have been involved in the hiring side of the desk in a recruitment process for a government job. Most people haven’t. It is an eye-opening experience if you get the chance. That’s not what we’re here to talk about.

What’s It Like to Recruit for a Government Job?

In the selection criteria training course, there is a module on what being on a selection panel is like. To sum that content in one word – tedious. What does tedious mean?

  • Boring and tiring, esp. because long or often repeated[1]
  • Wordy so as to cause weariness or boredom[2]

Assuming 50 people apply for a government job with a two page selection criteria response and maximum five page resume; that’s about 350 pages of reading.

  • You have to take notes on all of that as you read
  • At the end you have to compare notes with the other panel members, and make more notes
  • Then you arrange interviews
  • Next, you set interview questions and indicators of what answers the question, so you know what you’re looking for
  • Then you do a day or two of interviews – assuming five people get interviewed and it’s 45 minutes each, that’s 4 hours in interviews, and you have to take more notes
  • You have to give each applicant your undivided attention for those 45 minutes, five times in the day, so it’s tiring
  • When all the interviews are done you have to do selection reports and get approvals.

Having fun yet? It’s a tedious task.


Don’t Be Beige

It might sound counter intuitive that you don’t want to be beige. What does that mean? A person who tends to have no style or apparent aesthetic individuality[3].

In the job application and interview process, being beige means getting to the end and answering all the questions satisfactorily. Being middle of the field; it means not being better or worse than anyone else. Being completely satisfactory for the job is okay, however, it says you have no point of individuality. Nothing makes you stand out and be memorable.

At the end of eight to 12 hours of reading applications, resumes and doing interviews, being unmemorable by the panel, blending in with the competition isn’t helpful.  

Unique Selling Proposition

A unique selling proposition (USP) is a business term that refers to “…the one thing that makes your business better than the competition. … Your USP plays to your strengths and should be based on what makes your brand or product uniquely valuable to your customers[4]

Individuals can and should have a USP.

As I discussed in the Why your next job application should start with a coffee blog, knowing how your individual skills can be valuable to your customer – in this case your future employer, is vital.

You’ve heard the phrase that you need to sell yourself in a job application and interview, your point of sale is your USP. Your USP, your brand should be as unique and powerful as any brand you come across in advertising

Sound too much? Not really. Sure Nike, Asics, Reebok have market penetration across billions of people that you won’t; as an individual know the brand for what it means to you.

The panel members at the end of the interview should be able to remember you for what you mean to them. I guarantee you in the final panel discussions they will compare applicants for who is going to be the best in the role. If they want a manager with strong leadership and team inspirations skills they will remember the person who interviewed and exuded confidence, charisma and had that example when they led a team through the tough reforms to come out as the shining example of meeting the organisations new directions and vision.

That’s also why you need the cup of coffee, it eases out what it is they want, is important so you can align your brand with what the market wants.

Don’t Be Memorable for the wrong thing

Don’t make a bad impression, don’t drop a clanger, don’t ask the stupid question.

I will literally never forget reading the government job application that commenced “I know I don’t have the skills for this job but…“. That is and probably always will be the single worst introduction to a job application I will read.

Don’t be memorable like that.

What is your brand/USP applying for a Government Job?

If you can’t answer that question it should be your homework.

If you don’t know, how is anyone else supposed to!

What is your single biggest strength area, what can you bring to that role that they don’t already have but they need?

Identify your other strengths?

What are your weaknesses and how do you overcome or compliment/reinforce them?






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