If you want to apply for a government job in Australia, including local, state / territory and federal, there is a good chance that you will have to directly or indirectly address selection criteria (also known as assessment criteria, work related requirements, capabilities, qualification and experience requirements)
Selection criteria, assessment criteria or work related requirements outline the job specific knowledge, skills and experience required to undertake the job. A few selected examples:
- High-level interpersonal, negotiation, consultation and communication skills appropriate to an environment of change and evolution.
- Demonstrated ability to manage staff in line with contemporary human resource management policies, procedures and practices including anti-discrimination, ethical behaviour and occupational health & safety.
- Demonstrated ability to work independently, as well as working as a member of a team.
- Keyboard skills of a minimum of 40 words per minute with 98% accuracy.
Or you might encounter the more generic performance frameworks, which include:
- Supports Strategic Direct
- Achieves Results
- Supports Productive Working Relationships
- Displays Personal Drive and Integrity
- Communicates with Influence
Before you get started writing your government job application, you need to understand the basis on which criteria are used to assess candidates. In brief, selection, engagement and promotion of staff, managers and executives within the public service sector, are based on the principles of merit, and the key document used to determine the relative merit of your application, against other candidates, are your responses to the selection criteria. (In the same way, you were marked and assessed for exams and assignments at school and university).
What this means to you as a candidate, is that it is your responses to the selection criteria (and performance at interview) that will determine how well you do during the selection process, (rather than how well you perform on the job).
Right, now that you have a general understanding of the process, I’m sure you finally realise, how important it is to ensure you get a high score for your responses to the selection criteria, assessment criteria and key attributes. Before you go into melt down, let me reassure you, that once you start using the appropriate methodology and resources, you will be able to master selection criteria, and start securing interviews.
The basic fundamentals for addressing government applications
- There are no shortcuts to addressing government, so make sure you set yourself at least a day (longer, if applying for a senior position), in which to prepare your application (even if it a shorter version, such as providing a 2 page covering letter.
- Make sure you address ALL their requirements, including the desirables. If you don’t address all the application requirements, it will reduce your overall score, in the same way, missing out an examination question reduced your overall score.
- It is not sufficient to state that you possess the relevant skills, knowledge and experience. In order to score sufficient points, you must demonstrate with evidence and examples that you possess the relevant skills, knowledge and experience. The easiest way to do this is to use the CAR, PAR or STAR methodology. (See below for the STAR methodology). You can even use the STAR methodology when addressing behavioural questions, or 2 page cover letters.
STAR is the acronym for Situation, Task, Activity and Result
Situation – Outline of the context, such as the job title and organisation
Task – Outline of your overall responsibility, task, or project
Activities – How you did it
Results – What were the outcomes/achievements and contributions.
- Focus on what you achieved and contributed within the workplace, or voluntary position (really important and I can’t emphasise this enough!).
- Refine, re-write and proof read, until you have the near perfect application.
By adhering to and understanding these few basic fundamentals, you will significantly improve your odds of being shortlisted for a government job.