COVID-19 Career Help: How to apply for ACT bushfire recovery jobs

The ACT government is creating 150 new temporary government positions for people who have lost jobs due to the pandemic, with opportunities to upskill, and will be available until June 2021, with an initial period of six-months. The roles will have minimum prerequisites.

Specifically, the Jobs for Canberrans Fund will “provide work opportunities for people in the casual or semi-skilled workforce who have lost their jobs or have been significantly impacted due to COVID-19.

Jobs will be available for people who have relied on casual work and are not eligible for the Australian Government’s wage subsidy scheme or other support.

To be eligible to apply for roles, people must have lost their job, or have been significantly impacted as a result of COVID-19.

Roles will be made available to people most in need. Highest priority will be given to people ineligible for any Australian Government support.

Eligible people can now sign up to be notified of casual and short-term roles in a range of areas including:

  • cleaning
  • administration
  • customer service
  • fire recovery restoration
  • garden maintenance
  • building maintenance.”

Among the new roles are 26 entry-level positions for rangers and field officers to undertake bushfire recovery in the Namadgi National Park and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, focusing on trail maintenance and repair, catchment restoration and conserving cultural heritage. Six positions for Ngunnawal rangers will have a focus on repairing damage to cultural heritage sites including rock art, archaeological sites and heritage trees.

These jobs are found at this website. The Ranger, Ngunnawal Ranger, and Field Officer jobs are due 30 April.

What is unclear is what level in the ACT public service classification system these jobs are, so the salary is also unavailable.

The job description for the Ranger roles is broader than the other two jobs, including duties that could only be performed once shutdown restrictions have been eased.

Background information

If you are unfamiliar with how public service recruitment is carried out and/or with ACT government directorates (departments), then you may wish to read some background material first. Websites to look at are:

  • Parks and Conservation, part of the Environment Directorate
  • How we hire provides information on the ACT public service recruitment process and tips on preparing your application
  • Selection forms provides a list of forms used during the selection process, including the rating scale used by selection panel members to assess applications, a Recruitment Checklist that sets out what a selection panel needs to do, and Individual Assessment form used for each applicant.
  • Selection processes gives a broad description of how merit-based recruitment works.

If you are unclear about anything related to these jobs, call or email the Contact Name, which is listed on the right of the page for each of the jobs available.

Application requirements

Two documents are needed: a resume and an Expression of Interest.

Your resume should be up-to-date and provide relevant information about your education, employment history, experience and workplace achievements. Keep it simple and easy to read. You could use a template if you’re unsure what to include.

Regardless of the job you are applying for, it would add value to your resume to include under each of your recent job descriptions a short list of the results you delivered. Staff are not only expected to perform the duties of a job, but also to perform those duties to a standard, and to deliver results for the organisation. For example, in performing the Ranger and Field Officer roles you may be expected to do the work accurately, safely, within expected timeframes, taking account of environmental and heritage issues. You will be expected to be cooperative, helpful, share information, support others, take account of any feedback given to you from supervisors, be willing to learn.

The application is an expression of interest which addresses each of the selection criteria. Each criterion response has a word or page limit – 200 or 350 words, or a total of 2 pages.

If you need more help with identifying your skills, go to the Job Outlook website, use the Skills Match tool, type in the Select careers or jobs box Rangers, click Add, then Next, and you will have a list of skills with explanations of what they mean. Depending on your background, you could insert Cleaners (Commercial), Conservation Officer, Fencer, Mechanic or whatever job title you’ve had, in order to identify skills used in the job.

To write your application, use each of the selection criteria as a heading. For example, with the Ranger job, write each of the criteria in the order they are listed leaving space after each one to fill in your response. The first three criteria would look like this:

Basic knowledge and/or experience in natural and cultural resource management. Ability to apply this knowledge and/or experience to conservation and rural land management activities.

 

Self-motivation, initiative and the ability to work as part of a team or as an individual and follow instructions and procedures.

 

Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively. Ability to apply these skills in public relations and presentations, liaison and law enforcement activities.

 

Next, under each criterion, you need to write about a situation from your experience that demonstrates the skills listed in the criterion. There are two aspects to this to keep in mind. The first is to understand the skills that are listed. The second is to know how to write about your situation.

Understand the skills listed

If you need more help with identifying your skills, go to the Job Outlook website, use the Skills Match tool, type in the Select careers or jobs box your job title, click Add, then Next, and you will have a list of skills with explanations of what they mean.

Let’s take the criteria that are common to all three jobs.

Workplace Respect, Equity and Diversity, Workplace Health and Safety

Most people work in places where staff are expected to be courteous, fair and respectful, and to look out for their own and others’ safety. Rather than write that you ‘always behave in a courteous, fair and safe manner’ it would be better to give more specific information. For example, if you’ve worked with machinery where safety is an issue, such as wearing a hard hat, goggles, high viz vest, then you could say that you consistently wear safety clothing and have been commended for doing so. You could say you have worked well with people from many cultural backgrounds, respecting their beliefs and practices by showing an interest and listening to what they have to say. Perhaps you have helped people whose first language is not English to understand signs or directions. Perhaps you have coached novices to be more proficient with their tools or work practices. Perhaps you have worked with people with disabilities or people who identify as LGBTIQ, or veterans, refugees. With regard to compliance with the various Acts mentioned, you could spend a lot of time researching these (which is probably not needed), or you talk about how you comply with the procedures relevant to your previous work. Organisations have rules about how work should be done and you will have complied with these.

Communication skills

Communication skills refers to how we talk and write. What is important to work out is who you would be talking with and writing to, and in what form. These jobs would likely involve following instructions from supervisors, sharing information with other staff, and in one case, communicating with park visitors, and in another, applying skills in public relations, presentations, liaison and law enforcement activities. For these last two items, it would be best to talk to the contact person to find out how likely these are in the next six months and what they actually mean in practice. What sort of presentations would the person be expected to deliver, and what does it mean by ‘law enforcement activities’.

It’s not essential to have experience directly related to parks. You would have received and understood instructions, shared information with other staff, and possibly talked to a range of people in the jobs you’ve held. The key word is ‘effectively’. If instructions were unclear, did you seek to clarify them? If they were clear, did you follow them? If you wrote any material, was it clear, did others understand it, did it follow any rules on layout or content? Was information you shared with others useful to them?

Self-management skills

The criteria include self-motivation, initiative, work independently and as part of a team. As this work is performed largely outdoors in parks, you will need to be relied on to keep working all day (stay motivated), to perform your work without someone checking up on you (work independently), to see a problem and try to solve it rather than ignore it or think it’s someone else’s problem (initiative), and consider the welfare of those you work with (as a team member to think of others’ safety, what they might need to know that you know, what help you can offer them to get a job done).

Technical skills and knowledge

Specific skills and knowledge are sought, including about general construction, knowledge in natural and cultural resource management and ability to apply this to conservation and rural land management activities, repairs and maintenance, wildlife and livestock handling, ability to operate plant, machinery and hand tools and carry out basic maintenance. For these you could list what training you’ve had, what machinery, plant and tools you have used and maintained, and what experience you’ve had that is relevant.

You might also talk about experience that might not seem relevant, but that gives you what is called transferable skills and knowledge. That means that you can use some skills and knowledge gained in one job in a different job. For example, you may know a lot about Indigenous relationships to lands, waters and cultural sites but never applied this to conservation or rural land management. You can learn on the job how to apply this knowledge. So you can talk about how you’ve learned and applied other knowledge in the past, thereby showing your ability to learn how to apply knowledge in a new job. Maybe you’ve operated a crane or other equipment that is unlikely to be used in these new jobs. If you look up Crane Operator on the Job Outlook website it will list a wide range of skills and knowledge that could be useful in one of these new jobs, including an ability to manoeuvre, navigate, or drive equipment, ability to work with mechanical equipment including servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, moving parts, equipment; controlling equipment. These skills are all transferable to these new jobs.

How to write criteria responses

Once you are clear about what the criteria mean you are ready to write about your experience.

If a criterion covers several skills, then, if possible, you need to cover all of them, or as many as you can, in the example you give. For example, the criterion ‘Ability to plan and undertake safely general construction, repairs and maintenance works within conservation and rural areas. Willingness to undertake and/or experience in wildlife or livestock handling’ has two parts and each part talks about several things, for example, general construction, repairs and maintenance works. Try to include as much of the criterion as possible in your response.

Your response to each criterion is written in the past tense, because you are talking about something that has already happened.

You can talk about your experience by using this structure.

Start with ‘An example of my xxx skills was when …..’ In this sentence you are referring to the skills/experience/knowledge referred to in the criterion.

Explain what the problem was, who was involved, what your role was, and difficulties faced. Then list the main steps you took to deal with this situation, focusing on those skills and behaviours relevant to the job. Finish by saying what the results were, that is, how the situation was fixed, resolved.

To give an example, let’s take the criterion ‘Ability to actively manage your own safety and contribute to the safety of others.’ This is a made-up response, and I use it to show how the above structure might look.

‘An example of how I have managed my own safety and contributed to others’ safety occurred when I was working on a building site where three houses were under construction. I was wearing my hard hat, high viz vest, and safety boots, plus I had checked my equipment, and signed on. I was aware that one of the team was a new apprentice who seemed a bit nervous around equipment. I noticed that the apprentice was about to climb a ladder to work on the roof and that the ladder hadn’t been levelled on sloping ground. I went over to the apprentice and explained what I saw and helped him to better position the ladder. My actions resulted in avoiding a potential serious accident and helping the apprentice to be aware of safety details to look out for.’

This example is 139 words so well within the word limits. Another shorter example could be added, or a description of the range of safety issues experienced. For example, the above response could start with the following information.

‘I have worked in construction and maintenance jobs where there were safety issues with equipment, wet surfaces, noise, power tools, dust and heavy lifting. My safety record is clean and I have trained apprentices in safety.’

By giving an example like this under each criterion you are writing your expression of interest.

Some jobs ask for a ‘pitch’ rather than responses to selection criteria. You can read about how to do this in another article.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist® specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.