4 Ways to Fill Your Selection Criteria Statements With Your Abilities
The first few times I had to
selection criteria I really struggled to fill the page. I had no
idea what I should write or how I should make it meaningful. In fact,
my first attempt was so terrible I never actually submitted the
application. I knew I had the ability to do the job, I just didn't know
how to write the selection criteria.
But after 14 years as a government recruiter, I've learned a thing or two and have some to share with you!
Here are my top 4 tips for filling your page with useful information.
1. Increase Your Claim / Ability Density.
Claim = "State or assert that something is the case"
Density = "A measure of the amount of information"
Increasing your claim density simply means, include more proof.
It could be problems that you are good at solving. More benefits (from your features and benefits analysis), something you know for a fact you can do really well, in fact better than the competition. It might be achievements you have had or specific training relating to the selection criteria. It could be an ability you know would be beneficial in the role that no one else is likely to have.
All this information should be on your planning worksheet, and if it’s not, you haven’t finished your planning phase properly (so go back and do it again!) I can’t stress how important a strong claim density is. The more evidence you have for meeting the selection criteria, the better your application will be.
If you have a mental block when trying to list your abilities or come up with more claims or evidence, have a read through the following prompters (it will help if you write down your answers to each prompter).
Think of a situation that you have been involved in, relating to the selection criteria, within the past two years.
- What was the ultimate goal, what problem were you trying to solve, or what were you trying to accomplish?
- What steps did you take to reach your goal, solve your problem or accomplish your task?
- What strategies did you use to reach your goal, solve your problem or accomplish your task?
- What tools did you use to reach your goal, solve your problem or accomplish your task?
- What was the end result? *
- What were your measures of success? Provide some solid evidence such as statistics or figures (e.g. sales figures, turn around times, percentages) *
* The last two points are going to be the most important to include in
your statements addressing the selection criteria. They will prove that
you have a strong ability in this area and take your claims to
the next level.
Finally, a word of warning when increasing your claim density – the quality of your claim is important. If your claim is trivial (by trivial I mean a skill or ability that is used every day in the normal duties of your position, that any other person would also have), you are making your application look trivial. Your claim must be a strong one. And also, every claim has to be supported with evidence. But of course, I’ve said that before and you already know that!
2. Repeat Your Key Messages About Your Abilities.
When I was studying psychology I learned that it can
take five repetitions of a message before it is remembered. Repetition
is the key to forging a memory. This is particularly true when
selection panel members maybe skimming through or speed reading your
application. It doesn’t mean that you should cut
and paste sections of your selection criteria and repeat them. And it
doesn't mean that you say exactly the same thing or use the exact same
example over and over.
The best way to do it is to say the same thing in multiple ways. Don’t go overboard and don’t fatigue your reader by saying the same thing over and over. You can use similes, or various stories with the same moral, ability or outcome.
3. Try Future Pacing Your Abilities.
Future pacing your abilities means writing in a way that makes the selection panel imagine you in the job.
Infomercials do exactly that.
If you've ever been awake in the wee hours of the morning and had the tv on you've likely seen an infomercial. They manage to fill half an hour with content about why you should buy their product. Have you seen the ab-trainer infomercial? They try to get the viewer to imagine themselves using the ab-trainer effortlessly and achieving amazing stomach muscles with little effort. The key to the success of these commercials is getting the potential customer to see themselves using the product and to see themselves with future success using the product.
If you can, try to get the selection panel into the thinking like you already work in the job.
Rather than just explaining the benefits your skills and abilities are, place them in the job. Don’t just allude to what you can bring to the job, place yourself specifically in the job and tell the panel what you are going to do and how good you will be at it. Of course in order to do this you will need to have a good understanding of what the job involves, and not just from the job description. Talking to the contact officer in advance about the day to day duties, the problems in the job that need solving, challenges coming up in the work area etc will arm you with the perfect way to future pace your application.
You might discover in your little chat
with the contact officer that the area is currently experiencing some
problems with conflicting priorities from two different operational
areas. They both want the department to service them first. They won't
budge because they both think they are equally important. Here is your
opportunity in your selection criteria to show what abilities you have
that would help in this kind of situation. You can talk about
(particularly when addressing communication or interpersonal skills
criteria) when you have negotiated conflicting priorities, how you have
handled difficult people and challenging situations in the past, how
you manage demanding situations with seniors, and so on.
4. Pull Your “Product” (Abilities) Apart.
The ab-trainer isn’t just a contraption for helping
you to do sit ups, it comes with a unique slim line design so you can
slide it under a bed or couch when it's not in use, it comes with a
quick start guide, it also comes with an instructional DVD that
outlines 5 different exercises you can do with it.
How can you pull apart your product?
Let’s say your product is communication skills, how can you pull these apart? What elements of communication skills would be your strong points?
For example, do you have special skills writing
reports, minutes, briefs, formal correspondence, informal memos,
training instructions, manuals, standard operating procedures, letters,
media releases, website content, newsletters, articles or journal
publications? Do you have abilities in delivering seminars, conference
papers, training or key note speeches? Are you able to sell ideas,
state facts clearly, make your communication objective clear, use
appropriate style and tone, and keep an audience's attention?
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