What You Can Do to Improve Your Application



It’s never easy to know exactly how to present yourself in an application for a Local Government role. Sure, there are experience and skill requirements, but what about the other things? What extra-curricular experiences will boost your application? What does it take to stand out among a field of qualified applicants?

Having spoken to a number of Council employees recently, we figured it’s time for us to revisit the age old question; what can I do to improve my chances in an application?

1. Make a good first impression

First things first, always keep in mind that you’re usually not the only applicant for a job vacancy. On average, we frequently see over 20 applicants for every job and quite often Councils will advertise jobs elsewhere too.

For you, that means it is critical that you get the application right. As a job seeker, you’ve probably submitted a few applications recently and you may be getting sick of doing the same thing over and over again. Yet it really is absolutely crucial that you don’t take shortcuts and take the time to write the application thoroughly. Recruiters are looking for serious applicants and there’s no better way to show them you’re serious than by paying attention to detail and getting the application right. Even simple things like spell checking every word and having a friend read over the application could be the difference-maker. Trust us, recruiters can tell the difference between a rushed application and a thorough application.

2. Tailor your application to the criteria

For every job vacancy, HR departments will always be working with a brief from the hiring department. They’re looking for a specific type of employee that will fit the brief they’ve been given. For you, that means you need to really hone in on the fact that you’ve got the right skill set for the job, which means going beyond just mentioning it. If the job description says that the successful applicant will be proficient in Microsoft Excel, don’t just mention that you’ve used it before. Tell them exactly how you’ve used it in the past and why that means you’ve got the necessary level of expertise that they’re after.

3. Follow to right process and follow up

If HR Departments have one pet-peeve, its applicants that don’t follow the necessary process to submit the application. It shouldn’t need to be said, but if a job description asks you to submit your application through an online link, don’t attempt to send them your application via email or post. Quite often, Councils have set an application process a certain way for a reason. In recent years, these applications usually have a field of predetermined questions for you to answer. Once again, follow the right process and you’re in with a much better shot.

4. Communicate your motivation for applying

As a job applicant, you naturally want to go above and beyond to ensure that you’re giving yourself the best possible chance to land the job. To do that, the best thing you can do is to communicate your motivation for applying for that particular job. Again, get specific. It’s not enough to simply write ‘I really want this job’. Recruiters are looking for the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ so don’t hesitate to get more detailed. For example, if you’re applying for an environmental role, don’t just say ‘I want this job because I care about the environment’. Go deeper, tell them about your lifetime love of bird-watching and your deep concern for greedy developers and the threat to the local Nature Reserve.

We’re not saying that you need to write a novel about your life story in the application, but it really does help to give the Council some insight into your passion for a particular topic.

5. Research and be prepared

This one applies to both the application itself and (if you make it through) the ensuing interview. You might remember this advice from our Dr Alice Howe (Lake Macquarie Council) interview, but it really does make a big difference if you come prepared. If you want the job, take the time to research the Council, the department and the community. Recruiters love it when you come into an interview packed with specific questions to ask. It shows that you’ve done your homework and that you genuinely are passionate about the field.

6. Don’t be single minded

When we sat down with Tim Nguyen from Cumberland Council, he had an extremely interesting insight for us which we’ve since heard from other Councils. He told us that when it comes to Local Government, it is often more important to get your foot in the door than to land your dream job straight away.

So if you haven’t had much luck with previous applications for the specific job you’re after, consider applying for other, somewhat related, jobs then seeking to transfer later on down the line. Given the size and nature of Council organisations, you’re never stuck in one department forever. Working for a year or so in one role then seeking to transfer can often be a much easier path to your dream job than you might think!

So there you have it. Just a few tips to help you improve your chances on landing that dream job in Local Government. Until next time, good luck out there!

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