The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is one of the most fiercely competitive Australian Public Service (APS) Government departments to step foot into; as well as in progressing and moving forward once you’ve secured a role and proven yourself. It’s typical for the ATO to receive 3000-4000 written applications for entry level roles (APS3 or 4); and a very high number of applications for jobs listed internally. This particular client of mine was already established within the ATO as an APS2 Debt Collection Officer. She applied for an internally-advertised role requiring the addressing of five criteria up to a maximum of 250 words in length for each. She gained an interview and went on to receive a permanent job offer. Following are full excerpts of two criteria.

Demonstrated ability to acquire and apply complex knowledge…

As a Debt Collection Officer with the ATO, I possess a solid grasp of financial business practices and process together with APS Government requirements. In recent training for the APS2 Debt Collection Officer role, I gained extensive knowledge of procedures in relation to Income Tax, Goods and Services Tax, and Proof of Identity. When I communicate with customers (tax payers) over the phone, I explain in general terms and in a clear and concise manner exactly how the taxation process works, tax reform processes, and I provide technical advice on GST, income tax withholding, income tax instalments and income tax assessments. Internally, I then go on to share this knowledge through participation in a classroom environment in group discussions with both trainers and fellow team members. This enables the other participants to better understand financial and general business knowledge. In one instance, I was asked by my team leader to deliver an oral presentation on the Proof of Identity process to a group comprising 15 staff. I conducted a role play of the conversation guidelines that should take place with the customer for the introduction of Proof of Identity based on a practical everyday situation that could typically and often does occur. As a result, the participants gained a better understanding of how to handle a situation of this type. When sharing knowledge in the workplace, I adhere to the APS values by acting professionally, respecting and trusting colleagues, striving for positive results, and working together with teams to achieve a common goal.

Interpretation skills…

I possess excellent analysis and interpretation skills which are dutifully applied when making clear and concise decisions regarding the status of taxpayers. As a Debt Collection Officer, I am responsible for accurately interpreting taxpayers’ balances on their various accounts whilst utilising several systems including Siebel, IPS and Mainframe to assist me in the process. When analysing taxpayers’ situations, I consider various factors in order to gain a better understanding of their circumstances. These factors include: how large the debt is, why the debt occurred and their past history. I also consider other factors that may have occurred in their lives; for example, whether a personal tragedy resulted in their failure to remit. I obtain from taxpayers all relevant details in relation to their debts including business trends and personal circumstances. One rule does not apply for everyone; therefore, I demonstrate flexibility when considering each individual circumstance, taking into account all personal factors whilst maintaining consistency and compliancy throughout the process. Analysing all the circumstances relating to each individual taxpayer provides me with vital and concrete information in order to make an informed decision and judgement. Throughout the process, I interpret necessary information including whether taxpayers are up-to-date on the system and calculate how far behind they are (where applicable), debt balance the general interest on accounts, any outstanding lodgements, and previous compliance history. Overall, I am an advocate for data driven decision making and make all of my decisions based on a careful analysis of the facts.

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Annie Cerone