The huge Department of Human Services has seen a deluge of applicants for jobs at Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency.

41,000 people have applied for just 1,250 jobs.

The influx of interest comes in response to the department’s move to expand eligibility for permanent jobs from the low-ranking APS level 2 through to middle management EL2 roles.

One HR specialist has told reporters that the vast numbers of applicants reflects the desperation for permanent work in the public sector.

“It is a lot of applicants, there's a lot of people trying to stay in the Australian Public Service,” employment expert Susan O'Neill, of Canberra consultants White Pillar, told Fairfax Media.

“Then you've had a lot of people who've been caught out in the [hiring] freeze whose departments have had to let them go, but who are very good people.

“There are heaps and heaps of candidates, it's very competitive, there are lots of people looking and anything permanent is really attracting big numbers.”

Ms O'Neill suggested some staff could find security by applying for departmental roles for which they were overqualified.

“If you go for a lower-level position, you're more competitive,” the specialist said.

“Then when you get into the department, you'll find that because they can't advertise and hire people externally they're acting people up like nobody's business.

“The department can then permanently promote them once they're in-house, that's how a lot of departments are keeping their favourite people.”