How to address selection criteria

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What are selection criteria?

Selection criteria are the list of the skills, attributes and experience that an employer wants for a specific role. Employers use this information to assess an applicant’s suitability for the job.

Selection criteria can include technical skills (such as previous experience working in the role or specific qualifications or certifications) and personal traits (for example, customer oriented, attention to detail, team player).

The selection criteria for a role are often outlined in the job advertisement. They are usually linked to the employer’s ‘key words’. If you are approaching a business directly, you should research the employer (visit their website and social media) to get an understanding of what traits and skills they value in workers.

Formal versus informal selection criteria

Some larger organisations, including Government agencies, ask you to respond to specific formal selection criteria. The employer will usually indicate a word or page limit for each response. You should submit your responses to formal selection criteria as a separate document to the rest of your application.

Some examples of specific selection criteria are:

  • demonstrated capacity to communicate effectively
  • good organisational and administrative skills
  • proven ability to work as part of a team
  • well-developed customer service skills

For selection criteria that don’t require a formal response (for example, those outlined in a job ad) your cover letter is a good place to address any criteria.

How to address selection criteria

When responding to selection criteria you need to make the link between what you can do, and have done in the past, and how it relates to the job. List examples of relevant skills, experience and personal qualities that you can use to provide this information.

If you don’t have any actual work experience, use examples from other activities such as school, voluntary work or other extracurricular activities, like sport.

Hints and tips

  • Keep your response clear and succinct. Keep your cover letter to about a page in length. For formal selection criteria, always stick to any word or page limits.
  • Use relevant examples. Show the employer how you have demonstrated this trait or skill in the past and what the result or outcome was for your employer.
  • Be honest and factual. Never lie on your application. Employers will check references so make sure you can back up anything you say in your application.

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