How to Respond to Selection Criteria When Applying for Government Jobs

How To Respond To Selection Criteria When Applying For Government Jobs

Job applications can be a vast, intricate and often frustrating landscape that we all must occasionally cross to secure new roles. Given that local, state and federal government jobs in Australia offer an enviable sense of stability, comprehensive benefits and the opportunity to make a mark on the community, applicants are required to make a comprehensive case that they are right for the position to beat out their many competitors.

A common feature found in advertising and recruitment measures for a government job is detailed selection criteria. This not only provides a clear insight into what the department is looking for in a potential employee, but also a guideline on how you can tailor your application to the role.

In this piece, our specialists at McArthur Recruitment will explore how best to write responses to the selection criteria for government jobs in Australia, as well as provide some key examples to help you get started.

What are the Selection Criteria You Find in Aus Government Job Postings?

The selection criteria for government job recruitment outline a set of competencies and qualities an applicant must have to be the right fit for the role. While entry level applications might pivot around your resume and a brief cover letter, most government jobs, especially in senior and executive levels, in Australia (and, indeed, worldwide) require you to address these criteria directly.

Steps on How to Write Responses to Selection Criteria for Government Jobs

While some Aus government jobs might have a stringent online application form to complete with separate cells for your answers, others will simply review your resume and cover letter. As such, there are a few steps you can follow to ensure you create the best response that meets the role.

1. Research and Understand the Role

The first step? Don't take a shot in the dark with some generic, templated resume or cover letter. Aus government jobs come with detailed descriptions, outlining what's expected from potential candidates, and the recruitment team behind them will expect a worthwhile application in return.

Before drafting your response, spend some time reading through the criteria and understanding the nuances of the role in this particular department. Doing so will ensure that all the examples and experiences you provide align with what's required.

2. Address Differences Between Selection Criteria, Resume & Cover Letter

Now that you understand the selection criteria within your preferred local, state or federal government jobs, review your existing resume and cover letters to identify any differences and opportunities for improvement.

Selection Criteria in Your Resume

When recruitment staff are manually reviewing potentially hundreds of resumes, you need to make yours scannable. In fact, you need to design your resume to be easily reviewed in seconds to find the perfect answers to the selection criteria.

The best way to do this is by extracting keywords from the criteria and integrating them into your experience history and key skills sections. For each point, be sure to outline your capacity in a particular role (for example, your ability to collaborate, as evidenced by team projects). It also pays to demonstrate your skills with examples of past experiences to showcase a skill, such as exhibiting leadership during a college event.

Use concise bullet points, focusing on the "when" and "where" of your skill deployment.

Selection Criteria in Your Cover Letter

Your cover letter is the key to showing depth in your professional history. In the space of a few paragraphs, you can elaborate on your personal experiences or skills touched upon in your resume. Dive into stories or instances, offering context, challenges faced, and the results.

For example, you could write:

‘In my previous role in retail, handling customer queries under pressure not only honed my problem-solving skills but also strengthened my interpersonal abilities.'

3. Embrace the STAR Method

The STAR method – it's not about shining bright (though that’s a bonus), but about structuring your responses in an easily digestible and impressive fashion. It stands for:

Situation (S)

Begin by setting the scene and describing the context in which you operated. This can be a specific event, challenge, or problem you faced.

  • Resume: Briefly state a challenging scenario you encountered.
  • Cover Letter: Offer more context or background on this situation, allowing the reader to grasp its significance.

Task (T)

What was your responsibility in that situation? Clearly define the objective or goal.

  • Resume: Mention the primary role you played.
  • Cover Letter: Provide a detailed overview of your specific responsibilities and expectations.

Action (A)

Detail the actions you took to address the situation. Highlight strategies employed, steps taken, or initiatives led.

  • Resume: List the critical actions or strategies you executed.
  • Cover Letter: Delve deeper into the thought process behind those actions and any collaboration or leadership displayed.

Result (R)

Conclude with the outcomes of your actions. Was the situation resolved? Did you achieve your goal? What did you learn?

  • Resume: State the measurable outcome, be it a percentage increase, a successful project completion, or another tangible result.
  • Cover Letter: Reflect on the broader implications of the result, including feedback, recognitions, or long-term impacts.

4. Proofreading and Seeking Feedback

Perfecting your application is akin to refining a masterpiece. While your initial draft may contain the essential elements, the attention to detail in subsequent revisions elevates it. Here's an in-depth look at the significance of proofreading and the value of obtaining external feedback.

The Art of Proofreading

  • Eliminate Errors: Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or formatting inconsistencies can detract from your application's professionalism. Such blunders might send a message that you lack attention to detail.
  • Enhance Readability: A thorough proofread ensures your content flows logically. Well-structured sentences and appropriate use of punctuation can significantly boost comprehension.

Invest in Feedback

  • Different Perspectives: Others may view things differently or spot inconsistencies you've overlooked. A fresh pair of eyes can be a treasure trove of insights.
  • Subject Matter Experts: If you know someone in the government sector, their feedback can be invaluable. Working with recruitment specialists can also help offer industry-specific advice or tips that could give you an edge.

Multiple Review Rounds

One review is rarely enough. Consider revisiting your application after a break. Often, a fresh perspective after some time can help you catch overlooked errors or areas of improvement.

Tools and Technology:

  • Leverage Technology: In our digital age, several tools can assist in proofreading. Platforms like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor can help spot common errors or suggest improvements in sentence structure.
  • Print and Review: Sometimes, reviewing a printed copy can help you see errors more clearly. It also offers a different reading experience, allowing you to gauge the visual appeal and formatting.

Find Greater Success in Your Application for Jobs in Government with Help from McArthur Recruitment

You can find a series of immensely rewarding and impactful roles in federal, state and local government jobs in Australia. For help identifying the right roles for your career aspirations, or assistance with your application, please contact our specialists at McArthur Recruitment today.

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