5 steps to addressing key selection criteria

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Key selection criteria list the skills, experience, qualifications and personal attributes that employers are looking for in candidates to fulfil a certain role. They are often the criteria behind the person or job specification used for many public sector roles. When vetting your application, the hiring manager will use these criteria to assess your suitability for the job, so it’s crucial that you address them.

Sometimes it’s acceptable for you to do this within your CV or cover letter, but more usually you’ll be expected to respond to the criteria in an application form or to create an additional document called a Selection Criteria Statement in which you write out the different criteria and reflect on each of them individually.

Find out from the company if you’re unsure which method to choose, but whichever format you end up using make sure you work through the following steps:

1. Formatting
It’s important that you address each criterion separately. If you’re using a Selection Criteria Statement, you’ll need to create section headings for all the different criteria. Present them in the same order as they appear in the job specification, using the same wording. Under each header (or application form section), write one or two paragraphs, starting with a short introduction describing how you meet the requirement followed by a more in-depth description of the relevant skills and experience you possess. Use bullet points where needed to structure the information.

2. Read carefully
You need to know exactly what the employer is looking for – for example, do they require ‘knowledge of’ or ‘experience of’ – so read the criteria thoroughly and make sure you answer the question, providing the appropriate evidence.

3. Address each part of the criteria
Some criteria may consist of different elements, for example: ‘Experience in developing, implementing and evaluating a range of education services and products.’ Make sure you address each part of the criterion, describing the relevant skills and experience you have for each. Try to quantify your experience where possible – for example by mentioning the number of years you spent in a certain role.

4. Give specific examples
Vague, unsupported claims or cliché statements won’t cut it; you have to be specific when talking about your skills and achievements. So instead of saying, ‘I am a great problem-solver’, think of a concrete example you can use that illustrates how you handled a particularly difficult problem.

5. Use the STAR technique
Once you’ve thought of an example, use the STAR technique to construct your response, briefly describing the Situation, Task, Action and Result. An example for the problem-solving criterion might look like this:

‘When I was head of the film society, we wanted to organise a film festival to show the projects of fellow students, but our budget wasn’t big enough to cover all our expenses. I decided to start a crowdfunding campaign, offering a free video production workshop for anyone who donated $20 or more. Ultimately, we ran four very successful workshops, raising enough money to help us stage a two-day festival.’

If you’re writing a Selection Criteria Statement you might want to add more detail to the paragraph above; if you’re only writing a cover letter you’ll be limited to at the very most two pages – you’ll still need to address each of the criterion separately; you’ll just have to do it in fewer words. In your CV, make sure you use bullet points and keywords to highlight those skills and achievements that fit the selection criteria.

Use active verbs – i.e. ‘I negotiated’ rather than ‘I was responsible for’ – keep the content clear and concise and make sure not to skip that final check: grammar and spelling mistakes could undo all the hard work you put in your application so make sure your application is error-free!

Source: HN Global