Job Applications – How to Write Effective Selection Criteria Statements

Selection Criteria are statements that employers, particularly government agencies request job seekers submit with their applications to demonstrate the scope and depth of their skills, experience and knowledge in relation to a specific personal attribute or competency. Listed below are examples of typical selection criteria:

  • Tertiary qualification in a relevant field, or equivalent experience
  • Proven track record in contract management and administration
  • Demonstrated experience in budget management and reporting
  • Ability to work in a high performance team
  • Highly developed interpersonal and communication skills conducive to respectful dealings (including active listening) with colleagues, board executives, managers and direct reports.

A three part structure is recommended for selection criteria responses – Positive Opening, Scoping Statement and 2 or more Examples.

The benefits of using this strategy include

  • being a guide for job applicants to include all the best and most relevant information from their work history relating to a specific skill
  • recommending the best structure, presentation and format for each section, and
  • providing a practical tool to generate the most concise, effective, comprehensive and supported statement of competency or skill guaranteed to impress any employer.

NOTE: Many employers restrict the length of selection criteria responses to a page, or sometimes specify 250, 500, 800 or 100 word or equivalent character limits. Always check the entire 'Application Information Package' to see whether there is a restriction before you start composing your responses. However, for the first drafts ignore this requirement, it only becomes important during the editing phase. All energy for the first draft should be focussed on creating and generating ideas for content. Direct your critical internal editor to take an extended coffee break until summoned.

POSITIVE OPENING
The first one or two sentences of your selection criteria response should be a positive statement that immediately links you with the desired skill, experience or knowledge. If you have been acknowledged for past performance, this is your opportunity to show perspective employers how you have used the targeted skill in a work situation to achieve good results.

Opening Examples

  • Teamwork – For the last 10-years my role as a Team Leader has required me to work collaboratively and productively with multi-disciplinary teams to produce project deliverables on time and within budget. This has enhanced our company's reputation for being a market leader in project management.
  • Client Service Delivery – My experience in client services has involved both face-to-face and call centre work environments across a number of industries including telecommunications, hospitality, insurance and banking. My employers have acknowledged my competencies and results through multiple Client Service awards recognising both individual and team performances.
  • Organisation – The majority of my employment has required using my organising and prioritising skills to manage large volumes of work with competing critical deadlines in order to meet strict compliance requirements as well as client imperatives.
  • Financial Management Reporting – The aim of all financial management reporting is to be confident that the output is comprehensive and clearly indicates the financial situation of the organization and its component functional / operation units. I have consistently been able to deliver financial management reports on that have been fully aligned with each of my employing organisation's strategic goals, amply supported with evidence that either validates current initiatives or provides recommendations for a commercially viable way forward.

SCOPING STATEMENT
A scoping statement teases out the components of each skill area, providing an overview designed to demonstrate to employers you understand the dimensions of each attribute, preferably supported with short examples. This section should be no more than one or two paragraphs in length. It can be formatted either in dot point form or as a statement and may contain the following information

  • a list of skill types egcommunication types include interpersonal, presentation, liaison, negotiation, written, etc.
  • a competency listing, eg demonstrate functions you routinely use in MS Word, such as create table of contents, bibliographies, flow and organisational charts, mail merge, etc.
  • an outline of your method, process, procedure, 'how to' approach or way of doing something eg problem solving, handling client inquiries or managing a poorly performing team member.

Scoping Examples

  • Meet Deadlines – I use a series of 'To Do' lists which is constantly reprioritized throughout the day as circumstances, operational and service demands change. I use a diary and / or desktop computer system to track daily, weekly, monthly and longer term tasks, plans and projects. I generally use periodic check lists to ensure certain tasks are completed on time. In addition, I maintain a neat and tidy desk area and make full use of lists, information retrieval systems, document trays and folders to organise my physical environment.
  • Accuracy and Attention to Detail – With over 4-years experience in managing data collections I have developed a keen eye, proven strategies and a methodical approach that enables me to readily detect information and data anomalies. In spreadsheets I always cross reference my calculations to ensure that the rows and the columns of a set of figures verify the same total figure. I employ in every spreadsheet self checking mechanisms that will highlight errors the moment that a stray finger makes them.
  • Clear and Concise Written Communication Style – My experience in written communication extends to targeting specific groups across diverse audiences – clients, team members, supervisors, committees and professionals. I take great pride that all my documents are factual, easy to read, grammatically correct, error free and professionally presented. I have extensive experience in generating business correspondence as well as performing on a daily basis a wide range of document tasks such as writing, drafting, collaborating with, contributing to and editing policies, procedures, proposals, business cases, project management plans, marketing collateral , data collection forms, surveys and newsletters.
  • Experience in using Spreadsheets – On a daily basis I use MS Excel for recording, analysing and generating reports. I am highly proficient in importing data into and out of Excel spreadsheets. I am able to generate graphs, simple front end forms, paste-link functions, and many of the data manipulation (transcribe) and statistical functions (sum, average). My proficiencies extend to presentation and printing of Excel worksheets to facilitate the ease of reading and interpretation of data. Any work that requires comparative analysis on costings for venues and set up of budgets, as well as the monitoring of expenses is performed in MS Excel.

RELEVANT EMPLOYMENT EXAMPLES
The last and most critical section of a selection criteria response is to provide at least two examples from your work history to demonstrate where and how you have used the desired skill in a work situation to achieve an intended outcome. My recommendation is to take 2 or 3 positions from your work history, using a company name as the header and provide your experience in a narrative style, and include who, what, where, when, how and why along with a statement of achievement. The examples should be written so they create a picture in the mind of the reader thereby overcoming any impediment associated with prospective employers' lack of familiarity regarding your industry, company, position, project, role responsibilities, activities or discrete tasks.

Employment Examples

  • Company A Since July 2008 as the Accounting Manager my role has been to receipt and review all processes and systems leading to the monthly consolidation of the company's Group accounts. A key accountability is to ensure a strict adherence to financial data accuracy, consistency in treatment of accounts and reporting standards across numerous projects administered by multiple financial reporting units and involving billions of dollars. I use a number of comparative methodologies to verify accuracy and completeness of submitted accounts before consolidating them into Group financial statements. My role requires demonstrating leadership and the training of financial and accounting staff in head office and subsidiary offices to ensure they deliver their components of key strategic Group financial reports by the scheduled due dates. Our dynamic and highly competitive business environment often requires the Board and Executive Management to request a specific configuration of the Group's financial data in order to provide information that comprehensively guides, directs and supports strategic planning initiatives. A significant challenge for special reports is to ensure expenses and revenues correctly relate to their associated activities, receive the same consistent treatment and are aligned with the organisation's budget forecast to ensure comparability.
  • Company B As a Clinic Booking Officer in the 2009 National Oral Health Survey Project, I performed in a high volume, pressured and deadline dependent work environment. My role required the planning, organising and scheduling of dental examination clinics for six teams operating across the state. Each team was required to handle up to 30 patients per examination day. My tasks included contacting patients to secure a minimum number of appointments before confirming no later than two weeks prior that a scheduled clinic day was approved to go ahead. For the duration of the 3-month project, not only did I achieve the booking target for every scheduled clinic (no clinic was cancelled), but my contribution lead to our state being acknowledged as the project's Best Performer for the highest service volume and the quality of results.

Even for a professional writing selection criteria responses can be hard work. It is strongly recommended that the moment you identify a position requiring preparation of selection criteria you START IMMEDIATELY by quickly setting up a draft document using the selection criteria as headings and temporary subheading titles of 'Opening', 'Scope' and 'Examples' to guide you in the initial placement of content. In the first few sessions concentrate only on setting up the framework and filling in with rough notes or outlines of suitable information as it comes to mind. Strive to stay creative and avoid going into edit mode. You will have plenty to editing to do as the application deadline draws closer.

When you run out of energy, focus, concentration or fail to make any progress, it is more productive to WALK AWAY, leave it for a day, and resume when refreshed and able to sustain an objective viewpoint. Starting sooner, means you can give yourself the luxury and gift of time to create, edit and conduct multiple reviews to enhance the quality and presentation of your application before submission.