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When an employer sets the key criteria for a job application, their aim is to get a sense of your background, knowledge, skills and experience. Your answers are often given very high priority in the application process so you shouldn't take this task lightly1.
Lucky for you, we've compiled this handy guide to help you to address selection criteria in a way that proves you're qualified, ready to work hard and worthy of an interview.
Where to start
Create a new word document and copy/paste the selection criteria list into it from the job posting. This will help to ensure you are addressing the criteria word-for-word and that you have thoroughly read each question. Title your document and rename the file to something sensible like "Statement addressing selection criteria" and be sure to include your full name. There will be plenty of applications, so make it as easy as possible for the person sorting through them all to notice you.
It can be tempting to just write one broad, wide-ranging response that covers some of the questions and hope it's enough, but resist the urge. A question that asks about your ability to contribute ideas and demonstrate initiative and flexibility actually has three parts! Make sure to address each one individually. Not only does this prove that you are thorough, it demonstrates that you don't cut corners, which is a very valuable asset to employers.
Identify the keywords
Questions are often divided into "essential" and "desired" criteria, so it's worth assessing which are the most important to your potential future employer and giving those criteria more attention.
Take note of the specific wording used in the questions, and then use it yourself to make sure that your answers are on track. You don't want to go off-topic and start to waffle as employers may assume you are trying to cover up a lack of experience. Incorporating keywords into your responses will demonstrate that you understand what's expected of you and can provide examples of the knowledge and/or experience they are looking for in a candidate.
Make sure you use strong action words like "demonstrated", "initiated" and"negotiated", rather than passive phrases like "was involved in" or "assisted with", and back up each claim with a strong example. If you can't prove you did it, leave it out.
Aim to be a STAR
A great method for addressing selection criteria is using the STAR model - Situation, Task, Action and Result. You need to draw a clear link between what you can do, what you have done in the past and what you will be able to do if you land the role2. It's important that you use recent, relevant, strong and specific examples3. Don't be afraid to talk yourself up here - this isn't the time to be modest.
Sample criterion: Demonstrated ability to meet deadlines
Situation: Role as an entry-level accountant at a medium-sized company
Task: To ensure that the company's financial data was collected and entered into the monthly report before the deadline
Action: Made sure that each manager was aware of the dates for submitting their team's data
Result: The figures from each team were collected and collated ahead of schedule and the report was delivered to management on time
Now, you need to translate these points into a clear and concise response that addresses that you have the required knowledge and/or experience to satisfy the criterion. For example:
"I have excellent organisational and time management skills, including the ability to manage multiple deadlines. An example of a time when I was required to utilise my time management and organisational skills was during my employment as an entry-level accountant at a medium-sized company. The role required me to ensure data from all teams was collected in time to collate the monthly financial report. I drafted a memo that was emailed to all managers, reminding them that the information from their team was to be submitted before the end of the month. I collected the figures from each team and entered them into the report that was then delivered to management before the deadline."
When you're finished don't forget to remove the STAR headings. They are simply there to help you structure your responses and shouldn't appear in your final application. After you've finished, make sure to thoroughly edit your work. Even the strongest application can be cast aside if it's riddled with careless errors.
One last thing: If you don't have actual work experience to match the criteria, you can use any other relevant experience, such as something you've achieved at university, in a student club or in a volunteer position. All experience can count towards making you a productive and valuable employee.
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