A NSW Government website

Our Mob on Country

Applying for a role

Finding a job

Applying for a role with the NSW Government can feel like a lot of work. It involves a lot of steps to make sure it is a fair process for all applicants:

  • All vacancies with NSW government departments are advertised on I Work for NSW
  • Create a profile on I Work for NSW and register to get emails about jobs when they are listed
  • Sometimes we place ads in print media like local papers or the Koori mail
  • Networks and contacts: talking to people, word of mouth, social media and websites for Aboriginal organisations all have available jobs

Before applying for a new role there are a number of steps you should take:

The recruitment process

Get prepared and read the following stages of the recruitment process:


Your written application is the only information the department sees to get you to the interview stage, so you need to make sure you promote yourself and show that you have the experience and skills to do the role. You must provide actual examples.

The STAR (situation, task, action, result) model can help you break down the application questions.

Consider an example

The role you are looking at lists the following as an essential requirement:

  • ‘Experience in administration, including experience using computer-based systems, such as word processing, spreadsheets and records-management systems.'

Using the STAR model in your response, you could start with the following:

Situation: Set the Scene Last year, I volunteered to be secretary for my sons’ soccer club. The board had five other members to support a club of 500 children
Task: Outline the task/ What were you required to do?

In my role, I provided administrative support across many areas, including documenting and distributing meeting minutes, compiling newsletters and keeping track of registrations.

Approach: What did you do to deliver on the requirement or solve the problem?

I am confident using technology and use Microsoft and google word processing applications regularly. I also consider myself competent at using computers and am quick to learn new technologies.  As volunteers we have limited time to commit to the organisation and management of the club. When I started, one of the main tasks with a large time commitment was responding to emails from members.  I suggested that we start a regular weekly newsletter to distribute to all members so they could be kept up to date with information and results. Each team coach would submit content relevant to their team. This also saved board members time and got more people involved.

I also recognised a need to develop a list of club members. This has previously been managed in paper form with boxes of registration papers being maintained. Using my well-developed skills, I developed a database in excel to enable entry of all members. As time allows, we will update this database with members from previous years to form a history of our club.

Result: What was the outcome of your actions? (Keep the details concrete and focus on how you achieved positive results.)

I compiled and distributed the newsletter each week with input from team managers, coaches and parents. My time commitment has reduced, and we have more people contributing to the running of our club. Based on feedback from readers, the newsletters were well-received and helped to improve our image as family friendly. At our annual meeting, our President made special mention about how organised our records were. I will continue in the role of Secretary for the next season.

Tip: The NSW Public Service Commission has an an excellent resource with more information to help you write your application.  Please visit I Work for NSW - writing your job application.


There are many online sites that include examples of resume structures. Use the following tips to make your resume stand out:

Be brief, clear and straightforward

  • Demonstrate that you have the experience and knowledge required in the job
  • Read the job description and capabilities and reword your resume so it matches the requirements of the role
  • Use work achievements that are aligned to the capabilities and role requirements

List your recent roles that relate to the role you are applying for:

  • Use simple standard text that is easy to read
  • Structure your sentence for readability
  • Don’t write in third or first person
  • Avoid cluttered complicated layouts
  • Use bullet point
  • Check the detail - make sure it is error free- spelling and grammar
  • Make sure the structure and formatting is clear and consistent
  • Use clear fonts that can be easily read on a screen- Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri

Cover Letter

  • First impressions last – so the opening paragraph needs to grab your potential employer’s attention and impress them by your suitability for the role
  • If applying for identified or targeted roles make sure you share your identity and connection
  • Address the letter directly to the person named on the job ad
  • Describe why you want to work in the role and show passion for the work
  • Summarise your main skills and experience
  • Highlight your skills that are specific to the role requirements
  • Make clear what you can offer the team and how you can help them succeed
  • Outline any general skills you think are relevant to the role
  • Use the language in the role description
  • Provide evidence of achievements through using the STAR model to support the claims you make on your Resume. This will highlight your capabilities
  • Finish with a call to action that will encourage the employer to take the next step and ask them to contact you to set an interview so you can further discuss your suitability for the role and thank them for their time. This shows that you are keen to meet and helps finish on a positive note

Transferrable skills

Everybody has different skills and abilities that can be relevant across different areas of life including professionally within the workplace. These are known as 'transferrable skills'

Examples of transferrable skills

  • Teamwork – playing sport in your community
  • Leadership – being a role model for young Aboriginal people in your community
  • Listening -  hearing stories and yarning with Elders and family
  • Communication – networking within your community or in your school or sharing knowledge of Aboriginal culture


All candidates are asked the same set of questions and are assessed against the same standards with a common rating scale.

We use Behavioural style Interviews. You will be asked questions and will need to share examples of specific situations from your own experience. This interviewing style is based on the idea that past behaviour is an indicator of future behaviour

When providing examples you should show:

  • how you approached each situation
  • what you did
  • what the results were

The questions will relate to the role you are applying for and will normally include situations that you can expect in the advertised role. Look at the requirements of the role which will help in coming up with some questions.

For example: a role advertised states that Business Support Officers deal with many competing priorities and need to be able to prioritise.

An example of a question may be:

  • 'Tell me about a time when you had to manage competing priorities? How did you decide which task to do first? What tools did you use to assist with this?'

Tip: Take some time to sit down and think of a few questions, write down examples from your work or life you can use to answer using the STAR method.

Tip:  Practice what you will say. Do a test interview with someone, talk to the mirror or record yourself on your phone and listen back.

Focus Capabilities

The NSW public sector capability framework describes the capabilities (knowledge, skills and abilities) needed to perform a role.

Interview questions will always be based on the Focus capabilities.  View the The NSW Public Sector Capability Framework for further details.

The focus capabilities for the role are shown below with a brief explanation of what each capability covers and the indicators describing the types of behaviours expected at each level.

It sounds complicated however is a good way to help you understand what the panel will be looking for in an interview.  Look at the behavioural indicators to help you think of relevant examples that can show you meet this capability.

Tip:  In an interview be specific - don't talk about what you think you might do in a situation - talk about what you did!


The following resources from the I Work for NSW website can support you through the application process: