Any example demonstrates many skills

An approach to selection criteria is to use the STAR model – Situation, Task, Action, Result. One of the limitations of this approach is that one example is used to demonstrate one area of skill. In explaining the situation, other skills may be overlooked. In reality, any example demonstrates multiple skills.

Take an example of problem solving. A problem is a situation that is unsatisfactory and causes difficulties for people. It can be a puzzle, needing logical thought to solve.

Let’s supposing you are writing about solving an IT problem. Or perhaps it is an error in some financial records that needs solving. Or maybe it’s a problem about how to meet a deadline when there seems to be too many things to do and not enough people.

In order to solve any of these problems a range of skills could potentially be used:

  • Analytical thinking to work out what the problem actually is.
  • Research skills to find out how to solve the problem.
  • Information sharing skills to explain to someone else what the problem is.
  • Interpersonal skills to understand the problem.
  • Customer service skills to help someone else know how fixing the problem is progressing.
  • Writing skills to explain to a technician what the problem is.
  • Decision-making skills to determine what option to choose to fix the problem.
  • Negotiation skills to win someone’s cooperation who is central to fixing the problem.
  • Facilitation skills to brainstorm with a team what could be causing the problem.
  • Coaching skills to help build someone else’s skills who is involved in this problem.
  • Teamwork skills to divide up the work and help each other out to meet the deadline and get the work done.
  • Self-management skills in deciding priorities and meeting deadlines.

Two ideas flow from this analysis.

When keeping records of examples to use as evidence, capture the full range of skills used in the example. While you may think it relates to a particular skill, this may narrow your perspective. There may be a core skill, and there are bound to be others used to support that skill.

When writing about any example, use skill-based language when talking about what action you took. For example, “To solving this problem I researched …. and analysed ….. Following my negotiations with …. I established three options, only one of which would satisfy the customer. To implement this solution I selected a three-person team and provided coaching so that ….”

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.