The public sector was unique in some ways during the public sector, as unlike other industries which experienced job losses during COVID-19, many government services were required to recruit workers to roll-out COVID-19 related activities and ensure that critical services across Australia would continue to function despite lockdowns, remote work etc. As we start to navigate a new way of working post-2020, many of us are looking to the public sector, which has been identified as key in supporting and rebuilding Australia’s economy. Consequently, job growth is expected to continue; last month the National Skills Commission released their annual five-year industry projections, which showed employment growth within the public administration industry (overall) is projected to grow by 4.6% over the next five years. More specifically, state government administration is expected to grow by 5.0%, local government administration is expected to grow by 4.9% and government representation is expected to grow by a whopping 8%  (National Skills Commission, 2021).
However, how the public sector and specifically government look to recruit potential candidates now is different to how it was pre-pandemic. Like many industries, the Public Sector is now embracing remote work and the way it can expand the talent pool organisations recruit from. Lockdown became an opportunity for many to trial remote work. Systems and processes were set up in record time to enable employees to continue their work from home and surprisingly, many found the transition successful in terms of productivity. A joint study conducted by CQ University of Australia and UNSW Sydney in June/July last year revealed that out of 6,000 Australian public servants surveyed (including 1,400 managers) only 8.4% of managers rated their teams as less productive when working from home. Furthermore, 57% of respondents thought productivity was the same and 34.6% believed it to be higher (Colley, L. & Williamson, S. 2020) . Consequently, a lot of organisations that had initially perceived remote working as a temporary measure to see us through lockdown are now considering making it a permanent fixture.
Traditionally, working within local councils and government would require employees to live locally, as many of the services or tasks involved would traditionally be performed onsite. However, lockdown was tangible proof that government professionals – particularly those working within non-essential and professional roles (those in HR, Finance, Marketing) – can perform the majority of their day-to-day tasks remotely. The great opportunity that now presents itself with so many organisations embracing remote work, is that new roles can be advertised without geographical restrictions. Or what HR consultants are now referring to as ‘borderless talent’; the recent recruitment phenomenon where organisations now can cherry-pick the best talent and job seekers have the opportunity to apply to new opportunities, regardless of physical location. Especially for organisations needing to fill multiple roles, taking in applications from all over the state or country can increase their talent pool; allowing them to access skilled and experienced candidates that they may not have been able to access otherwise. Meanwhile, the borderless talent phenomenon can be a great opportunity for job seekers living in rural communities and smaller towns where they might not be as many positions in their particular field to choose from. Or alternately, employees looking for a sea or tree change or wanting experience in a rural council or government organisation can apply for a contract role remotely is also a great opportunity to ‘try before you buy’ and sample a role without having to overhaul their life and move to a new location.
Borderless talent also promotes more inclusivity as by casting a wider net, organisations are exposed to a wider candidate pool from a range of both socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Similarly, it allows a broader range of job seekers to apply for roles that suit their particular circumstance. For example, remote work would align better with the lifestyle of working parents or caregivers. Or provide more opportunities to those with disabilities.
For jobseekers wanting to take advantage of this borderless talent phenomenon and include remote opportunities within their job search, we’ve provided a few steps below that can help to attract remote positions within the public sector:
There are so many online networks and communities that promote remote work including Linkedin, Facebook and specific platforms like WeWorkRemotely. For those wanting to pursue remote opportunities, make it clear on your online profiles that you are interested in remote work and then reach out to your own professional network and dedicated remote sites to help discover potential opportunities and ensure your profile will be seen by relevant organisations. Ensuring your online profile among these sites is up-to-date and showcases any remote work experience will also go a long way in standing out amongst competitors.
The majority of Australian job sites like Seek, Indeed or Linkedin will have filters job seekers can use when conducting searches, that allow them to focus specifically on opportunities that offer remote work. If you’ve never used them before, this can be a great starting point to suss out the volume of remote work opportunities in your chosen industry. In addition, there are now a number of specialised job sites that purely advertise remote work. To ensure you’ve covered all your options when starting your job search, make sure you’ve signed up to these additional sites so that you can get notifications for any relevant opportunities that pop up.
Reaching out to a specialised public sector consultant can be a worthwhile first step, for those wanting to gauge how many relevant opportunities there are within their specific industry and that caters to their skillset. Recruitment consultants within the public sector will work with multiple clients in a variety of roles and will have a strong knowledge of any current remote positions on the market that would suit your particular needs.
If you’re interested in pursuing remote opportunities within the public sector and wanting to seek some advice on which positions to apply for and how best to stand out from the competition, our Public Sector People consultants are always happy to help. You can reach out to us via:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call (03) 8535 3111
 National Skills Commission. (2021). Recruitment Activity Grows Across Locations, Occupations, And Skills. Australian Government. Retrieved from: https://www.nationalskillscommission.gov.au/news/news-centre/recruitment-activity-grows-across-locations-occupations-and-skills
 Colley, L. & Williamson, S. (2020). With Management Resistance Overcome, Working From Home May Be Here To Stay. The Conversation. Retrieved from: https://theconversation.com/with-management-resistance-overcome-working-from-home-may-be-here-to-stay-144850