Is your evidence pitched too low?

One way to undersell yourself in your application is to provide evidence that is too low-level.

What that means is that you:

  • Give examples that are too simple/ not complex enough to match the level of the job
  • Go into too much detail
  • Focus on the wrong detail i.e not the detail identified in the selection criteria.

For example, let’s suppose you are working in a job classified as APS 6 and you are applying for a job classified as EL1. You are tackling a criterion that concerns flexibility in a changing environment. To demonstrate your change management skills you select your contribution to a change process involving training staff in new skills. So you write:

‘My flexibility in a changing environment was demonstrated during a systems change process that involved training staff on a new database. My role was to find a provider who could design and deliver the training. To achieve this I:

  • contracted a provider to deliver the program
  • arranged logistics such as venue, equipment etc
  • organised registrations
  • answered queries from staff.’

While these details may have been carried out they are too low-level for what is expected from an EL1 person. Plus, they do not demonstrate flexibility and managing a change process.

A person in this level of job is expected to provide direction, align work with strategic directions, build organisational capability, steer and implement change.

To better match the level of the job, the example can be rewritten along these lines:

‘My flexibility in a changing environment was demonstrated by my contribution to a systems change process. A new client database was introduced in 2007 to streamline grant applications and to increase accuracy and efficiency. My role was to manage the training program so that staff could make the transition from a paper-based process to an online process.

To manage this component of the change I:

  • Liaised with the database designers to monitor timeframes and understand the new system. The timeframes were adjusted four times, which meant that I adjusted the training schedule accordingly.
  • Liaised with end-user managers to identify needs, concerns, and gauge existing skill levels.
  • Contracted a provider after conducting a selected tender process.
  • Liaised with the provider throughout the development and design phase and established a collaborative arrangement between the provider and system designer.
  • Coordinated the training program to minimise negative impact on work areas and assess the quality of learning.

As a result the training complemented the change process in terms of timing, system designer and end-user managers’ needs. All staff affected by the change completed the training prior to system implementation. This resulted in several ‘bugs’ being removed so that when the system went ‘live’ there were no problems visible to clients.’

To find out what each level in the Australian Public Service means read:

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.