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So you want to work in Government?

The government sector is comprised of a large group of organisations and departments, all operating with the common aim of ensuring that the country runs smoothly and it’s inhabitants can use and enjoy services which benefit society.

Also known as the public sector, the government includes services like the police, military, public transit, public education, infrastructure like roads, bridges, water and electricity supply, and health care. It also encompasses elected officials working at the local, state and federal level.

Most government departments are funded through taxation and they provide services to society without any requirement to meet commercial success criteria.

Government agencies handle issues as diverse as the protection of national parks, the construction of freeways, subsidies to farmers and the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

The government is also involved with creating legislation and policies that affect all Australians. Although most government employees enjoy certain benefits, there are a few downsides to working in this sector including the fact that the pay is often lower in these positions then in their private sector counterparts and many positions are politicised, meaning your job, workplace and focuses can change with the election of a new political party.

Sectors in Government include:

  • Local government
  • State government
  • Federal government
  • Defence
  • Environment
  • Immigration and Border Protection
  • Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Finance
  • Social Services

Personal Skills

Five key skills that will help you score a job in the Government industry:

  • Advanced written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong relationship building and management skills
  • A genuine desire to contribute to society
  • An openness to new ideas and concepts
  • The ability to remain calm and effective in a high pressure environment

Interview and Job Hunting tips

  • Go in with the mindset of ‘what can I do for this department?’ rather than ‘what can this job do for me?’ This is an important quality for public service.
  • Conduct lots of research into the department, their core business, their vision etc. Gain an insight into current issues and focusses so that you can intelligently discuss these with the interviewer.
  • Be prepared to talk about ways you have contributed to your community or worked as part of a team, a club or a society as these demonstrate important qualities for working in government.
  • Focus on the actual job you are going for, not where you want to end up in government. You will likely need to demonstrate your commitment and loyalty to this particular role before looking at advancement.