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Recruitment- Guidelines 
This document was created on 24 November 2017. 


 
https://www.apsc.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-05/recruitment-guidelines.DOCX 
This guide is under currently under review. Please contact the Employment Policy team via 
employmentpolicy.gov.au for any questions.  
 
 
Recruitment is about attracting and selecting the right person for the job. 
Recruitment processes do not need to be complex. They need to support sound, evidence 
based decision making. 
n the APS, there is a legal requirement in the Public Service Act 1999 (the PS Act) that 
engagement and promotion decisions are based on merit (as defined in the PS Act). There 
are also additional responsibilities in relation to fairness and transparency to meet 
community expectations of the way the APS operates.  
For more information see Merit in recruitment.  
There are special conditions that apply when the vacancy is for a Senior Executive Service 
(SES) role. More information on SES recruitment can be found here.  
The following is general information on each stage of a recruitment process. 
Arrangements in individual agencies may also be included in internal agency policies.  
Recruitment- Guidelines 
This document was created on 24 November 2017. 


 
Contents 
Planning 
Advertising 
Assessing 
Employing 
Scoping the job 
Ongoing jobs and 
Ongoing jobs and 
Implementing the 
jobs for more than 
jobs for more than 
decision 
Redeployment 
18 months 
18 months 
Australian 
Document the 
Jobs for 18 months 
Jobs for 18 months 
citizenship 
details of the job 
or less  
or less  
Probation 
Filling a vacancy 
Conditions of 
Selection 
Providing feedback 
A merit process 
engagement 
committees 
Record keeping 
Table 1: Advertising 
Supporting diversity 
Recruitment firms 
Reviews 
and assessing  
Extending periods of 
Bulk recruitment 
Cancelling 
employment 
Referee reports 
employment 
decisions 
Merit lists 
People who have 
received 
redundancy benefits    
Planning 
Scoping the job 
When a vacancy arises, take the opportunity to decide whether the job still needs to be 
performed and in what form.  
  What duties need to be performed?  
  Does the job still need to be done? 
  How does the job fit with the agency workforce plan? 
  What is the right classification for the job? See Public Service Classification Rules 
2000 and APS Work Level Standards. 
  Are the duties required for an ongoing period (i.e. there is no specified end date)? 
  Are the duties required for a non-ongoing (temporary) period? See Non-Ongoing 
(temporary) employment (link). Are the duties:   
  for a specified period of time 
  to complete a specified task; or   
  irregular or intermittent?  
  Does the job need to be full time? Does it need to be done in the office? Can it be 
done using flexible arrangements?  
  Can the vacancy be filled by using affirmative measures? Affirmative measure – 
Indigenous employment, Affirmative measure – disability and Affirmative measure 
Recruitment- Guidelines 
This document was created on 24 November 2017. 


 
– RecruitAbility Scheme is outlined in the APS Commissioner’s Directions 2016 
Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2022 (the Directions).  
Formatted: Highlight
  Will conditions of engagement be imposed? What are they?  
  Will a period of probation be set? 
Redeployment 
All APS agencies are required to consult the APS and SES Redeployment registers before 
commencing recruitment action. For information on the APS Redeployment Register, see 
APSJobs terms and conditions and information on SES recruitment can be found here. 
Documenting the details of the job 
Creating a document that details the duties to be performed and the skills, qualifications, 
experience and capabilities that you are looking for (‘selection document’) will assist: 
  the agency to target the right applicants in the job advertisement 
  candidates to focus their applications on what is important, and 
  the selection committee to form an opinion about who best meets the job 
requirements.  
Filling a vacancy 
A vacancy can be filled in any of the following ways: 
  assign duties to an existing APS employee in the agency. See Assignment of duties 
within an APS agency. 
  assign duties to an existing APS employee who transfers from another APS agency. 
See Movement between APS agencies. 
  promote an APS employee—from within the agency or from another APS agency. 
See Promotions. 
  engage a person from outside the APS in one of the following categories of 
employment: 
o  as an ongoing employee  
o  as a non-ongoing employee. 
Note: Where a non-ongoing employee successfully applies for another APS job—either 
ongoing or non-ongoing—this is not a transfer or a promotion, it is a new engagement.   
Recruitment- Guidelines 
This document was created on 24 November 2017. 


 
A merit process 
Promotions and engagements must be supported by a merit process. 
The rules applying to advertising and assessment will depend on whether the 
vacancy is for a period of 18 months or less, or more than 18 months. 
For a summary of advertising and assessment requirements, see Table 1 below. 
 
 
Initial vacancy 
Advertising 
Assessing 
Sharing merit list 
Ongoing 
Must advertise in 
Competitive 
For a similar vacancy 
Public Service 
selection process – 
(defined) 
Gazette (Gazette) 
in accordance with 
For all SES and 
section 10A(2) of the 
centrally coordinated 
PS Act and section 
entry level 
Non-ongoing – 
19 23 of the 
vacancies–agencies 
more than 18 
Directions. 
must provide access 
months 
to a merit list or pool 
when asked. 
Non-ongoing – 18 
Bring to the 
All other vacancies–
The delegate must 
months or less 
attention of the 
an agency may agree 
be satisfied that the 
community. 
to provide another 
person to be 
agency with access 
 
engaged has the 
to a merit list.  
work-related 
qualities genuinely 
Applicants must 
Irregular or 
required to perform 
agree that their 
intermittent 
the duties of the job. 
details can be 
(casual) 
shared.   
Table 1– Advertising and assessing 
Advertising 
All eligible members of the community must be given a reasonable opportunity to apply 
for a job in the APS. This means that all jobs that may be filled by engaging a person into 
the APS or promoting an existing APS employee must be brought to the community’s 
attention. 
Recruitment- Guidelines 
This document was created on 24 November 2017. 


 
Agencies can do this in a way that will attract the right people, for example, on the 
APSjobs website, agency websites, professional journals, job seeker sites, social media, 
and/or by making use of a Temporary Employment Register. 
Ongoing jobs and jobs for more than 18 months 
Job vacancies which  
  may result in the promotion of an ongoing employee, or  
  where the engagement of an employee is expected to be for more than 18 months 
must be advertised in the Public Service Gazette (the Gazette) on the APSjobs website.  
A decision to fill a vacancy must be made within 12 18 months of the date on which it was 
notified in the Gazette. For more information, including time frames see Public Service 
Gazette requirements. 

Jobs for 18 months or less, or irregular/intermittent duties 
These do not need to be notified in the Gazette–although they can be. More information 
is at Temporary employment.  
Conditions of engagement 
Where engagement will be subject to conditions, these should be noted in the job 
advertisement. See conditions of engagement.  
Extending periods of employment 
For rules applying to the extension of non-ongoing employment, see Temporary 
employment. 
 
Supporting diversity 
Vacancies in the APS, whether ongoing or non-ongoing, can be filled by an affirmative 
measure that allows agency heads to restrict eligibility for the job to: 
  Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants, and/or 
  applicants who have a disability, or a particular type of disability. 
Vacancies can also be advertised under the RecruitAbility scheme which supports people 
with disability applying for jobs in the APS.  
For more information, see:  
Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce Strategy 2020-2024
Indigenous Recruitment Guide, APS Disability Employment Strategy 2020-25, definition of 
disability 
and RecruitAbility. 
Recruitment- Guidelines 
This document was created on 24 November 2017. 


 
Assessing  
Applicants for all APS jobs must be assessed against the requirements of the job. There are 
no restrictions on the way in which applicants are assessed. Agencies can use methods 
that suit their operating environment and the nature of the job.  
Examples of ways to gather information about the suitability of an applicant include, but 
are not limited to: 
  requesting a CV and/or a written application 
  asking applicants to address specific requirements of the job, or make a ‘pitch’–
written or by video 
  conducting interviews face to face or via video 
  written or verbal testing, including psychological or aptitude testing 
  seeking examples of past work 
  contacting referees. 
Whatever methods are used, applicants must be assessed and compared fairly. The 
assessment method and outcome should be clearly set out in evidence provided to the 
delegate—the person who has the authority to employ the successful candidate. 
The delegate should be presented with a sound basis for making a decision and be 
confident that the process is in accordance with the APS Values and Employment 
Principles—including in relation to merit—and all other relevant legislation and policies.  
Ongoing jobs and jobs for more than 18 months 
Section 10A(2) of the PS Act  and section 19 23 of the Directions set out what is required 
for a selection process based on merit, for jobs for a period of more than 18 months, 
including on-going jobs. 
The following must apply: 
  the aim and purpose of the selection process is determined in advance 
  information about the selection process is readily available to applicants 
  the selection process is applied fairly in relation to each eligible applicant 
  the selection process is appropriately documented. 
When making a decision using such a selection process: 
  merit is the primary consideration; and 
  if any eligible applicants are otherwise equal on merit—secondary considerations 
may be taken into account. 
Recruitment- Guidelines 
This document was created on 24 November 2017. 


 
Note: Secondary considerations are matters within the control of the applicant— for 
example— the applicant’s ability to start by a particular date, willingness to relocate, or 
ability to meet other reasonable agency requirements. 
Jobs for 18 months or less, or irregular/intermittent duties 
Section 2226(4) of the Directions sets out the minimum assessment requirements when 
the vacancy is for a non-ongoing job i.e. is for a specified term, a specified task or is 
irregular or intermittent. More information is at temporary employment.  
As a minimum, the delegate must be satisfied that the person to be engaged has the 
work-related qualities genuinely required to perform the duties of the job. 
Selection committees 
A selection committee is often—but not always—used where a number of candidates are 
to be assessed. The committee will make a recommendation to the delegate. 
The delegate may be on the selection committee but does not have to be. 
It is good practice for any committee to reflect a diverse range of backgrounds and 
experience. 
If a committee member has a relationship with an applicant that may lead to a conflict of 
interest, such information should be declared to all committee members and to the 
delegate. The delegate can decide if the committee member should be excluded from the 
selection process. 
If a committee member is asked by an applicant to provide comments as a referee, the 
committee member should provide these comments to other committee members before 
accessing information on any other applicants. 
A selection committee for an SES vacancy must include the Australian Public Service 
Commissioner, or his or her representative. More information on SES recruitment can be 
found here. 

Recruitment companies 
Where a recruitment company is used to assist with the advertising, shortlisting or 
assessment for an APS job, the selection committee remains responsible for the final 
recommendation to the delegate. The delegate must be confident that all aspects of the 
recruitment process have been conducted in accordance with the APS Values, 
Employment Principles, and other relevant legislation and policies. 
Recruitment- Guidelines 
This document was created on 24 November 2017. 


 
Bulk recruitment 
A single selection exercise can be conducted for vacancies at different classification levels. 
This is usually done where the duties at the levels are similar, but vary—for example—in 
the level of supervision or degree of complexity.  
Applicants should be asked to nominate the classification/s at which they wish to be 
considered before any assessment takes place. 
An applicant can only be engaged or promoted to the classification level they have 
nominated. If they nominate more than one classification level, then they must be 
assessed against each and compared against the other applicants for each classification. 
Referee reports 
Referee reports are one of the ways to gather information and assess the suitability of an 
applicant. They should focus on establishing whether the person possesses the work-
related qualities needed to perform the duties of the job. 
A report can be requested from any source. The referee does not have to be nominated 
by the applicant. 
Generally, where an applicant may be found suitable, comments are sought from their 
current manager. For some applicants there may be sensitivities around approaching 
current employers. A decision can be made not to request a report unless the applicant is 
likely to be recommended for a job. 
Referee reports are subject to the Privacy Act 1988 and the Freedom of Information Act 
1982
. (FOI Act). For more information see the Office of the Australian Information 
Commissioner.
 
As a matter of procedural fairness, applicants should be given the opportunity to respond 
to any adverse comments. 
Merit lists 
A merit list, merit pool, or order of merit created as part of a selection process can be 
used to fill similar vacancies for 12 18 months from the date the original vacancy was 
advertised in the Gazette. A similar vacancy is outlined below and defined in the 
Directions. 
Merit lists record the relative suitability of candidates. If there is a ranked order of merit, 
then applicants are listed in order of suitability (first, second, third and so on). The first 
offer of employment must be made to the highest ranked applicant. Any subsequent offer 
of employment using the merit list to fill the same or a similar vacancy must follow the 
ranking.  
Recruitment- Guidelines 
This document was created on 24 November 2017. 


 
There is no requirement to list candidates in order. Candidates can be grouped into a 
single category of suitable, making up a merit pool. Candidates can also be grouped into 
different merit pools of, for example, highly suitable and suitable. 
If there is a merit pool, offers of employment must first be made to candidate(s) in the 
highest group. 
The first offer of employment is made to the most suitable person remaining in the pool, 
assessed against the requirements of the particular vacancy. Any subsequent offer of 
employment is made to the most suitable applicant remaining in the pool, assessed 
against the requirements of the same or a similar vacancy to be filled. 
Generally, an applicant who declines an offer of employment stays on the merit list or in 
the merit pool as long as it remains current, unless they advise that they wish to withdraw 
from further consideration. 
An agency can decide to stop using a merit list or merit pool at any time.   
Similar vacancy  
The Directions define a vacancy as similar where and all of the following applyif: 
Formatted: Highlight
  all of the following apply: 
o  it is the same category of employment (ongoing or non-ongoing) 
o  forit comprises similar duties 
o  it is at the same classification, or a corresponding Parliamentary Service 
classification 
o  for duties it is to be performed in a similar location; and. 
 
it is the same category of employment (ongoing or non-ongoing) 
 
it comprises similar duties 
Commented [A1]: This is different language than the merit 
principle page i.e. for similar duties. Same with the final dot point. 
 
it is at the same classification, or a corresponding Parliamentary Service 
Commented [A2R1]: Fixed 
classification, and 
 
it is to be performed in a similar location. 
And any one of the following applies: 
o  it is an SES vacancy 
o  it is a vacancy in a centrally coordinated entry-level program 
o  the Agency Head of the agency in which the notified vacancy existed and 
another Agency Head agree, in writing, that the vacancy is a similar vacancy 
to the notified vacancy 
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This document was created on 24 November 2017. 

10 
 
o  the   Secretary of a Department (within the meaning of the Parliamentary 
Service Act 1999) in which the notified vacancy existed and an Agency Head 
agree, in writing, that the vacancy is a similar vacancy to the notified 
vacancy. 
   it is in the same agency 
  it is an SES vacancy 
  it is a vacancy in a centrally coordinated entry-level program 
  the agency that advertised the vacancy, and another agency and a candidate agree 
in writing, the vacancy is similar to the notified vacancy, in writing, or 
  if the vacancy relates to a function that was moved to another agency by a 
machinery of government change—it is in the agency to which the function was 
movedthe agency that advertised the vacancy and the a Parliamentary Service 
Department that advertised the vacancy and the agency agree, in writing the 
vacancy is similar to the notified vacancy. 
Commented [A3]: This language different to the merit principle 
page 
and all of the following apply: 
  it is the same category of employment (ongoing or non-ongoing) 
  it comprises similar duties 
  it is at the same classification, or a corresponding Parliamentary Service 
classification, and 
  it is to be performed in a similar location. 
Sharing merit lists 
Job vacancies should be worded so that applicants are aware that—if they are found 
suitable—their details may be shared with other APS agencies for the purposes of sharing 
a merit list, 
unless they specifically ‘opt out’. 
A search function is available to agencies via the APSjobs website to help identify similar 
vacancies advertised in other APS agencies in the last 12 18 months. 
An agency looking to fill a similar vacancy—as defined in the Directions—can approach 
another agency or a Department of the Parliamentary Service and request access to a 
merit list or merit pool.  
Where applicants have agreed that their details can be shared -  
  For all SES and centrally coordinated entry-level vacancies—for example 
Graduates—an agency must provide access to a current merit list or pool to 
another agency, if asked. 
  For all other vacancies–an agency may agree to provide another agency with 
access to a current a merit list or pool.  
Recruitment- Guidelines 
This document was created on 24 November 2017. 

11 
 
Where a merit pool or list is provided to another agency, then the second agency can use 
the information on suitable applicants as if the pool or list had been created in their own 
agency.  
Any merit list has to be followed in order. If there is a merit pool, an offer of employment 
is made to the most suitable person remaining in the highest group, assessed against the 
requirements of the particular vacancy. 
Employing 
Implementing the decision 
Making a decision to employ the successful candidate will lead to a number of actions in 
relation to the person’s employment.  
An engagement  
An engagement is made under section 22 of the PS Act. 
Other actions include: 
  assigning duties under section 25 of the PS Act 
  allocating an approved classification in accordance with the Public Service 
Classification Rules 2000 – Rule 6. 
  imposing conditions of engagement under section 22(6) of the PS Act 
A promotion  
A promotion requires: 
  assigning duties under section 25 of the PS Act 
  allocating an approved classification in accordance with Public Service Classification 
Rules 2000 – Rule 6. 
Where the promotion is between agencies, it also requires:  
  movement between agencies under section 26 of the PS Act, supported by 
agreement in writing between the gaining agency and the employee. 
A movement at level 
Where a movement at level (transfer) is inside an agency, it will require:  
  assigning duties under section 25 of the PS Act. 
Where a movement at level is between agencies, it also requires: 
  movement between agencies under section 26 of the PS Act, supported by 
agreement in writing between the gaining agency and the employee  
Recruitment- Guidelines 
This document was created on 24 November 2017. 

12 
 
Where the move is for a temporary period, it also requires the agreement of the losing 
agency. 
Australian citizenship 
A person who is not an Australian citizen cannot be engaged in the APS unless an agency 
head considers it appropriate to do so and specifically waives the citizenship 
requirement
.  
For more information, see Citizenship.  
Probation 
A period of probation can be established as a conditions of engagement, where the 
employee is being engaged (not promoted or moved). 
Probation is a critical part of recruitment and selection. 
Not all selection decisions result in an outcome that is right for the employee or the 
employer. During probation, an agency can assess whether a person is suited to the APS, 
the agency and the job.  
For more information, see Probation. 
Record keeping 
It is important to create and keep documents in relation to employment actions on an 
employee's personnel file. This information can be important later in calculating the 
employee's entitlements or in the case of any review of a decision. 
Information on record keeping can be found at National Archives of Australia. 
Agency record keeping must also comply with the Privacy Act 1988. More information is at 
the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. 
Providing feedback  
It is good practice to notify unsuccessful applicants and offer them feedback.  
Individuals have a right to request selection documents under the FOI Act. Each agency 
should have information on its website about how to make FOI requests to that agency.  
Individuals may also seek access to personal information under the Privacy Act 1988.  
For more information see the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. 
Reviews 
A limited number of employment decisions—including in relation to promotions in certain 
circumstances—may be reviewed by the Merit Protection Commissioner. 
Recruitment- Guidelines 
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13 
 
For more information see the Merit Protection Commissioner’s webpage. 
Cancelling employment decisions 
More information is available at cancellation of employment decisions. 
People who have received redundancy benefits 
There are restrictions on engaging a person who has received a redundancy benefit from 
the APS.  
See Engagement of people who have received a redundancy benefit. 
Recruitment- Guidelines 
This document was created on 24 November 2017.