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Tips on Applying for Council Jobs

Before a Job is Advertised

Some councils will accept students and job seekers for short periods of work experience, or volunteering. Contact the councils Human Resources unit first, if they encourage you – then contact the units within council that you are interested in.

Most councils will welcome an application for employment, even if they haven’t advertised a job. These are called unsolicited applications and are usually held on file for a period. If a position becomes available during this time and you are a suitable candidate, they will contact you and advise you of the vacancy.

When a Position is Advertised

If a position is advertised that you are interested in, first check the closing date has not passed.

Next you need to get some information about the job, which often includes the items listed below. Carefully follow the instructions in the job advertisement for obtaining this information.

  • A Position Description or Job Description which tells you about the job
  • Some Selection Criteria which tells you what type of employee the employer is looking for

Also if there is a contact person for detailed technical inquiries ring them and find out more about the job, this may give you an advantage over other candidates. Ask for tips on things to read up on before writing your application, council websites for example can be very informative.

Write a letter (called a covering letter) and attach it to the front of your written application. Next put your written response to the Selection Criteria, addressing each selection criteria separately. Finally attach your Resume or Curriculum Vitae to the back. Include any other details the application has asked for, such as copies of Qualifications or Referees.

Your application should be typed but not bound or enclosed folders. Don’t send originals of official documents and make sure your application reaches the council by the closing date.

Some councils may request applications by email. You may need to present evidence of your qualifications at interview stage.

After You Have Applied

After the applications have closed, you will receive an acknowledgment letter to say that your application was received.
Based on the written applications a small number of people will be asked to attend an interview. This is the final and in a way the most important stage of the process.

There are normally three people on an interview panel. Some will be from the area in which you are applying to work, and some from human resources. Panel members will ask you questions that relate to the selection criteria and sometimes other questions too. Stay relaxed and positive, the panel members want you to do as well as possible.

After the interview the panel may contact your referees and it may take two weeks before the successful candidate is advised.
If you are successful, you may be required to undertake a health check prior to starting work. A written offer of appointment will then be forwarded to you.

If you are not selected for an interview you will usually be advised within a two to three weeks. If you are not successful it is OK to ask for tips on what areas you might improve in.

Remember too, the panel’s first choice may not accept the job. When this happens the next best candidate may be chosen, so stay positive through the process, and simply start looking for the next opportunity and thinking about how you can improve.