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How to Respond to Key Selection Criteria in Your Job Application

Getting it right will set you up to have a good interview.

More and more jobs these days are making job seekers respond to the role’s key selection criteria. In fact some sectors, such as government and education, require it. Sometimes you’ll be asked to refer to the criteria in your cover letter, but most of the time you’ll need to attach a separate document as part of your application.

Here are some tips on how to nail it.

1. Replicate the job ad’s key words and tone

Most government job advertisements are written formally, so your responses should be too. If the ad is colourfully written, add a bit of flair.

Also, use any key words in the advertisement in your responses.

2. Use examples

Don’t just say you are successfully implementing marketing campaigns; show it using statistics and examples of your campaigns. For example, if you were involved re-launching a restaurant, you could note by how much the patronage increased, or the percentage increase in social media followers you were responsible for.

We recommend using the SAO approach here. Identify the situation (venue relaunch), then identify the action you took (email campaign), then identify the outcome (per cent increase in sales).

3. Style it appropriately

Pay attention to the document’s aesthetic appeal. It should replicate the stylistic elements of your CV and cover letter, and have consistent line breaks and text alignments.

Also, write out each criterion in bold before each response so it’s easy to decipher.

4. Keep it succinct

Hiring managers fly through these, so don’t waffle on. Get to the point quickly and write between 60 to 120 words for each, to a maximum of two paragraphs.

The whole document should be no longer than two pages.

5. Think laterally

If you think you’re lacking the skills and experience necessary to answer a particular question well, think outside of work. For example, captaining your local football club might show you have leadership skills. And playing in a band or making short films in your spare time demonstrates your creativity.

6. Keep at it

Answering key selection criteria can be a pain, but remember: everyone else applying for the role has to go through the same process. And many people give up and move on to the next role, so if you keep at it, you’re in with a better chance compared with other roles that are quicker to apply for.

Having to respond to the all the key selection criteria will also prepare you for the interview, saving you time down the track.

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