Application for an Exemption
This guide applies to officials of all non-corporate Commonwealth Entities (NCEs). Officials of corporate Commonwealth entities (CCEs) are encouraged to comply as a matter of good practice.
- outlines the government's mandatory requirements in relation to recruitment advertising.
- assists NCEs to achieve value for money in recruitment advertising by:
- encouraging the use of online recruitment advertising over print media advertising
- restricting the use of major metropolitan and national newspapers for recruitment advertising (unless paragraph 6 on exemptions applies)
- mandating maximum sizes and placement of recruitment advertisements in limited print media (such as regional, periodic publications or specialist media such as Indigenous); and
- mandating that colour must not be used in print media advertisements, where the cost is higher than black and white print.
- replaces Resource Management Guide No. 408: Recruitment Advertising Policy (September 2015).
Additional queries can be addressed to:
- Procurement Management Branch: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Master Media Agency (MMA):
Phone: +61 7 3105 3103
Other relevant publications include:
- The Recruitment Advertising Policy (the policy) was first introduced on 1 July 2009, and aims to assist NCEs and CCEs under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) to achieve value for money and improved targeting of their advertising spend.
- Since the policy was introduced, NCEs have increased their use of online media and social networking sites to target jobseekers. On average, online advertising is 60-70% less expensive than press media.
- Furthermore, in an environment where employers compete to attract the best candidates, the ability to tap into the passive jobseeker market through online job boards is also a growing area of strategic advantage.
- NCEs must comply with this policy. CCEs are encouraged to comply as a matter of good practice.
Part 1 - Recruitment Advertising Policy
- The policy applies to all recruitment advertisements, including for specific and general job vacancies, and graduate and other recruitment programmes, placed by NCEs.
- The policy mandates that NCEs:
- must consider placing recruitment advertising online in the first instance
- must not use major metropolitan and national newspapers for recruitment advertising, unless an exemption is granted by the NCE's accountable authority, or an official at the appropriate level of seniority (entities can contact Finance or the Master Media Agency (MMA) for guidance on the meaning of ‘major metropolitan newspapers')
- must limit maximum sizes and placement of recruitment advertisements in allowable press media (such as regional, periodic publications or specialist media such as Indigenous) as per paragraph 19 of the policy; and
- must not use colour in press advertisements, except in circumstances where the media supplier offers colour at the same cost or less than black and white print.
- An official with the appropriate level of seniority needs to consider the entity's internal controls (such as Accountable Authority Instructions) in promoting the proper use and management of public resources, achievement of the entity's purposes and financial sustainability of the entity (section 15(1) of the PGPA Act). The official is usually at Senior Executive Service level and congruent with the seniority of the position being advertised and the cost of the advertisement.
- The accountable authority of a NCE (or an official with the appropriate level of seniority) may, in limited circumstances, consider and approve requests for an exemption from paragraph 9 of the policy for particularly hard to fill positions (such as positions in the Senior Executive Service (or equivalent)) or special target groups (such as Indigenous groups), where online recruitment advertising would not be considered as effective, or good value for money, and advertising in major metropolitan or national newspapers is justified.
- NCEs are not permitted to place recruitment advertising in major metropolitan and national newspapers, unless an exemption letter signed by an accountable authority (or an official with the appropriate level of seniority) has been provided to the MMA, outlining the reasons for the exemption.
- NCEs recruiting APS Agency Heads (i.e., accountable authorities of NCEs, other than departmental Secretaries) and APS Statutory Office holder positions (including board appointments) which have received ministerial agreement to advertise, are not required to seek an exemption from their accountable authority to advertise in national or major metropolitan press. This is in alignment with the Australian Public Service Commission's Merit and Transparency Guidelines.
- Advertisements placed by NCEs must also comply with Public Service Act 1999 (Public Service Act) or the Parliamentary Services Act 1999 (Parliamentary Services Act) and any relevant APSC recruitment policies administered by the APSC.
Part 2 - Other requirements
Placement of recruitment advertising in the media
- NCEs must book and place all paid media recruitment advertisements (including temporary and non-ongoing advertising) through the MMA, regardless of the type of recruitment or position advertised.
- NCEs may enter into an arrangement with an external recruitment provider, or another organisation or group, whereby as part of the overall recruitment services, the entity may receive ‘free' advertising (‘sponsorship arrangement'). Recruitment under this type of arrangement may fall under the Recruitment Advertising Policy, and NCEs must contact Finance (Government Advertising Arrangement Management Team) to discuss before committing funds.
- If entering into a sponsorship arrangement, advertising rates must not be higher than the government's media rates. Please contact the MMA for specific advice on this.
Online advertising (including on APSJOBS)
- NCEs subject to the Public Service Actor the Parliamentary Services Act must advertise employment opportunities in the electronic APS Employment Gazette, at APSJOBS.
- In addition to the APS Employment Gazette, and in accordance with the considerations detailed in paragraphs 29 to 33, entities may use additional online advertising to attract suitable applicants.
- The MMA or Finance are not involved in placing employment opportunities at APSJOBS.
Advertising in non-major metropolitan newspapers
- NCEs may advertise positions in specialist publications, Indigenous, local, regional or rural press media without being required to provide an exemption letter [27KB] to the MMA.
Advertising format for press media
- Entities that advertise in press media, must comply with the maximum sizes for single position advertisements outlined below:
APS 1 - 6 (or equivalent):
13 cm x 3 columns
EL1 - 2 (or equivalent):
16 cm x 3 columns
SES positions (or equivalent):
20 cm x 3 columns
- It is recommended that entities select smaller options than those listed in paragraph 19 where possible, to reduce costs. Entities are encouraged to seek advice from the MMA on advertisement sizes.
- Colour must not be used for any recruitment advertisements placed in press media, except in circumstances where the media supplier offers colour at the same cost or less than black and white print.
Use of External Recruitment Providers
- NCEs that engage External Recruitment Providers (ERPs) - such as third-party specialist recruitment providers and/or executive search firms - are still required to comply with this policy, any relevant APSC recruitment policies and the Public Service Act or the Parliamentary Services Act.
- ERPs placing recruitment advertising on behalf of a NCE must place all resulting advertisements through the government's MMA. NCEs must then advise the MMA in writing of the third-party arrangements.
- The MMA will invoice the NCE for services under those arrangements, even if the advertising was booked by the ERP through the MMA, on the NCE's behalf. Entities must ensure that the information contained in the invoices (including media rates, fees and charges) are not disclosed to ERPs at any time.
- All contractual arrangements entered into with ERPs must reflect the requirements set out under paragraphs 22 to 24 of this policy.
International recruitment advertising
- NCEs placing any international recruitment advertising that is:
- placed from within Australian territory to appear outside Australian territory must use the MMA; and
- placed from outside Australian territory to appear outside Australian territory are not required to use the MMA.
Commonwealth entity branding
- The use of branding or logos is a matter for the Commonwealth entity, in accordance with any broader policy on Commonwealth branding.
- The Australian Government's Branding Guidelines.
Part 3 - Guidance
- The MMA must be consulted regarding all media options, publication dates and distribution areas, costs and deadlines, including:
- generalist or specialist recruitment websites: that may offer a cost effective option for reaching a wide audience of suitable candidates. In addition, there may be a number of niche, specialist and industry specific online job boards or periodic publications that may be suitable for attracting applicants for Senior Executive Service, professional or specialist roles.
- Indigenous media (press or other): that may offer a cost-effective option to attract Indigenous candidates. This is particularly encouraged for positions that involve Indigenous policy development or service delivery.
- local, regional or rural media (press or other): that may offer a cost-effective option to attract local interest for suburban, regional and rural vacancies. This is particularly encouraged for positions that involve rural/regional policy development or service delivery.
- Entities must consider carefully what advertising (in addition to the APS Employment Gazette), if any, may be needed to reach suitable applicants and ensure that all positions are advertised reasonably to all members of the public, consistent with the Public Service Act or the Parliamentary Services Act. This includes ensuring position requirements do not restrict applications to existing APS officials.
- Entities are encouraged to consider the most cost-effective advertising option(s) to attract suitable applicants, including the number of placements required for each advertised position.
- The APSC also provides employment advice and guidance to assist entities in developing their recruitment strategies.
- If recruitment advertising in your entity has been unsuccessful, Finance encourages you to discuss your strategy and options with the MMA.
Case Study 1:
Based on previous experience, an NCE is aware that it is likely to have difficulties sourcing suitable applicants for a specialist position in a rural centre. In accordance with the Recruitment Policy, the NCE is able to advertise the position in specialist press media such as rural and industry press. However, the NCE is also of the view that advertising nationally in major newspapers is likely to significantly increase the likelihood of getting suitable candidates.
The NCE must first obtain the approval of its accountable authority or an official at the appropriate level of seniority by completing and having signed an exemption letter setting out the reasons why the NCE believes that advertising nationally in major newspapers is likely to achieve a successful recruitment outcome.
The NCE may also consider promoting the vacancy through a range of social media channels and digital job boards.
Case study 2:
Occasionally an NCE has temporary vacancies that need to be filled at short notice. The entity reviews the APS general employment register and consults the APSC to confirm the approach to fill this type of vacancies.
In this instance, an entity may also choose to advertise on digital job boards, in addition to any specific advertising policy options provided by the APSC.