Public service bosses have been warned they cannot ''wait out'' the Abbott government's hiring freeze as job vacancies in Canberra recover from the all-time low recorded late last year.
But the picture for job seekers in the capital remains grim: the Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded just 400 vacancies in the three months to February.
Meanwhile, a private sector recruitment specialist warns that departments that think the recruiting freeze imposed last year will blow over are making a strategic mistake.
The ABS's latest job vacancy snapshot shows just 400 government jobs were available in the ACT in the February quarter, the second-lowest number since records began 30 years ago.
In February 2013, 700 government jobs were available in Canberra.
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There was slight relief, too, for the private sector: there were 2600 jobs vacancies in Canberra in February, the bureau said, adding 300 jobs in three months - an improvement on the previous year's figures.
But jobs in Canberra are still way down from a high of 5500 in November 2010.
The numbers represent all government sector jobs in the territory.
The low level of public sector vacancies in Canberra in February is equal to that recorded by the ABS between 1996 and 1997 as the then newly elected Howard government imposed deep cuts on numbers in the public service.
The highest recorded number of public sector vacancies in Canberra came in the dying days of the Howard government in 2007, when 2400 government jobs were available.
The latest figures from the ACT bucked the trend across Australia, where the number of job vacancies in the public sector was 9900 in February 2014, a decrease of 5.4 per cent from November 2013.
Meantime, public sector human resources specialist NGA.NET warned departmental bosses that the hiring clampdown was here to stay.
''Already, many departments and agencies are learning this lesson the hard way as they submit external recruitment requests to the APSC Commissioner, only to experience lengthy wait times in response,'' the firm's Asia Pacific managing director Karen Evans wrote in a briefing to senior bureaucrats.
''Often, when a reply is obtained, it is merely a request for more information.''
Ms Evans wrote that departments had to completely rethink their idea of what a ''critical employee'' was.
''No longer can recruitment in your organisation be undertaken with the attitude of maintaining the status quo.
''Instead, careful review and evaluation will be required in order to not just identify but demonstrate the business criticality of certain roles.
''Rather than assuming that vacant roles need to be filled as quickly as possible, your organisation could instead approach each vacancy with the intention of making that role redundant, unless it is found to be critical to the business.''