A new approach to PM&C jobs

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is now using a one-page pitch approach to job applications. This is a marked departure from a selection criteria-based approach. Coincidentally, there is some similarity to my recent tongue-in-cheek suggestions on an alternative approach to staff selection in the October Public Sector Informant .

 Changes to note in this approach
  • Jobs are now called Opportunities.
  •  No APS classification level is listed. The department is looking for ‘motivated, agile and resilient candidates who are motivated to apply for a role based on its responsibilities, priorities and opportunities’. This means you will need to work out what level of role you want and pitch for that level. To do so you need to fully understand the APS Work Level Standards. Your application will be assessed against these standards. The information goes on to say that if you are successful the role will be tailored to ensure best fit plus you may have the opportunity to ‘negotiate your salary within the parameters of the relevant enterprise agreement’.
  • Applications take the form of a one page pitch.

If you are interested in applying to this department then it is important to read the job description, including Frequently Asked Questions, very carefully. Here are the key points to pay attention to when reading this document.

Under ‘Who we are’ note that they ‘value people with ideas, the ability to present them persuasively, and the drive and skill to see them adopted’. Also note the importance of acting with integrity and discretion.

Read the section ‘What we are trying to achieve’. This summarises what is unique about this department.

Under ‘The opportunity’ take note of the broad description of what the job entails.

Under ‘Our ideal candidate’ you will find a list of the main skills, qualities, knowledge and experience that are sought. In total, these could add up to more than a dozen items.

Under ‘How to apply’ you will find that your application comprises three components: your resume, contact details for two referees, and ‘a one-page pitch telling us how your skills, knowledge, experience and qualifications make you the best candidate for this opportunity’.

Under ‘Who to contact’ you will find someone listed who can give role specific information. Given the broad nature of the information provided it would be wise to take up this opportunity.

Under ‘What should I include in my resume?’ an important detail is mentioned. The information says that the ‘quality of your resume creates the vital first impression we have of you’. This is not new information however it is not often highlighted in public service job descriptions.

Much more detailed information is provided about what to include in your resume than is usually the case for public service jobs. You are asked to provide:

  • personal details
  • education that relates to the job
  • work experience (note that achievements relevant to the job are asked for and you are asked to explain any gaps in time)
  • other relevant experience such as extracurricular activities, and you should highlight what you gained from that experience
  • referee details.

Instructions are provided about resume layout. The resume should be between  2 – 6 pages in length, be easy to read, use a simple consistent format, use bullet points, and place key information on the front page where it can be noticed.

Your pitch: The information says that your pitch is a ‘chance to tell us why you are the right person for the job. We want to know why you want to work at PM&C, why you are interested in the role, what you can offer us, and how your skills, knowledge, experience and qualifications are applicable to the role. In a nutshell-why should we hire you?’ The information goes on to caution against duplicating information in your resume and to highlight specific examples or achievements that will demonstrate your ability to perform the role.

Referees. Note that referees can be contacted at any stage of the assessment process so you need to have advised them upfront and be confident they will support your pitch.

Tips on writing your Pitch

Your approach to writing a pitch is similar to that of writing an expression of interest. It is a marketing document, promoting how you are a strong candidate for the opportunity on offer. This means:

  • Researching the opportunity: read the job description carefully, research the department, talk to the contact person for more specific details.
  • Pitch to level: decide what level you wish to pitch for.
  • Know what you have to offer that is relevant: identify your relevant skills, knowledge, experience, qualities [i.e. mentioned in the job description]; map your relationships with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders to identify what experience is relevant; select examples that demonstrate relevant experience using your skills and knowledge, ones that are of a level of complexity to match the level you are pitching for.
  • Make a persuasive case for how what you have to offer will enable you to make a contribution, add value and deliver results.
  • Try the three-part format as a way to organise your material.
  • Tailor your resume to the opportunity: Make sure the content is relevant to the role, appropriately pitched, and complements your pitch document.

You can read a critique of the pitch approach and proposed changes to APS recruitment in the November 2015 Public Sector Informant.

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.