Selection Criteria Tips for beginners
Are you interested in a career in government, but don’t know where to start? I receive hundreds of emails from people who want a public sector position, but who are stumped on the selection criteria the government uses. It is possible to crack the government criteria as an outsider, but you do need to do a lot more research than someone who is inside the system. I’ve written more selection criteria than I care to count, so I’ll share a few top tips to get you started.
Selection Criteria Tips # 1: Understand what the selection criteria is asking
Selection criteria can be tricky. You can be lulled into thinking you are perfect for the job, because on the face of it, the skills listed in the selection criteria sound the same as yours. I know it sounds obvious, but all roles are different. Even though the skills listed on the selection criteria seem the same as yours, it’s possible that they mean something completely different.
Confused or bemused?
Let’s have look at the selection criteria used in the federal government for leadership roles. They use an “Integrated Leadership System.” This system states the skills managers and leaders will need to become effective in all tasks required of them as leaders. The government recruits around these skills.
One of the criteria they list, is for example: “cultivates productive working relationships”, and for each point of the selection criteria they bullet point the underlying skills a manager will need to demonstrate. If you are a manager to cultivate a productive working relationship, you will need to do the following:
- Nurture internal and external relationships
- Facilitate cooperation and partnerships
- Value individual differences and diversity
- Guide, mentor and develop people
This is where it gets tricky! If you are responding to this criteria, you will need to know with whom you need to develop a productive working relationship.
If you think about it, you could almost take all these steps to build strong relationships with internal customers, external customers, or your team. Yet the role for which you are applying, may have no external contact, for example. If you do not know this, you may give the wrong example and the panel may penalize you.
I really can’t emphasize this enough. If you are outside the public sector system you need to call the convener to find out few simple facts about the role. I have never seen an application pack that does not have a name and a number to call. Please use it.
Selection Criteria Tips # 2: Ask the convener the right questions
To find out the right types of examples to provide, you’ll need to ask the convener intelligent questions about the job. Like anyone they can be time poor. Start with acknowledging that you have read the selection criteria, but state you would like to clarify some aspects, to fully understand the challenges of the job.
If you don’t mention you have read the selection criteria, the convener is likely to give you the flick or direct you back there.
Good questions to ask are:
– what do you see as the challenges of this role. The emphasis is on the you – that should get the convener talking
– can you give me a run-down of a typical day or week – I like this question because this is not what a list of duties on paper tells you
– what are the main priorities in this role – you would be surprised how often the real priorities are buried down at the bottom of the selection criteria
– could you explain how I may apply this requirement – this helps clarify any of the selection criteria that you find baffling. The question you could ask in the example above, is: “who are the stakeholders in this role?”
Selection Criteria Tips # 3: Join the dots
Depending on the space you have in your application, refer to your research in your application. Explain how the challenges you may face in the advertised role are similar to challenges you have faced in your experience. That then introduces your examples.
Read this before you apply for a government job. This is one of my most read posts on this topic.
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