Much selection criteria advice now out-of-date

If you are relying on material about how to tackle selection criteria written before 2012, you may be basing your application on obsolete advice.

In recent years there have been significant changes across Australia in how Commonwealth, state and territory governments run their recruitment and selection processes. While writing STAR-based responses to job-specific criteria remains valid, this approach is no longer the norm.

Recent changes include:

  • Revision of values and codes of conduct, with increased focus on ethical issues and risk management.
  • Expansion of capability frameworks across sectors, professions and roles.
  • Greater focus on contextualising applications.
  • Increased use of short, value-rich expressions of interest and suitability statements.
  • Expanded use of social media both for career management and work roles.
  • Access to job advertisements primarily online with accompanying traps for unaware applicants.
  • Increased demands on applicants to meet strict word/page limits.

Public sector challenges including reduced budgets and increased demands for leadership and strategic thinking, regardless of seniority.

These changes mean applicants need to be savvy and skilled in:

  • Contextual analysis: able to interpret the job, the organisation, the wider context.
  • Accurately interpreting online job advertisements to ensure all necessary information is gathered.
  • Understanding complexity and how it applies to a specific role.
  • High skill levels in editing and application-related language practices.
  • Responding to criteria on leadership, policy and strategic thinking.

Applicants need to be familiar with:

  • the capability framework/s relevant to the jurisdiction of interest
  • current thinking on essential public sector skills
  • expectations of work performance at a given level as expressed in work level standards
  • relevant legislative, policy and procedural frameworks.

In addition, applicants need to be able to make a case for ‘Why you?’ This means adopting a marketing approach to skills, experience and qualifications and being able to express one’s value in a comfortably confident manner without sounding arrogant or using hyperbole.

This is why applicants need current information and advice. The sixth edition of How to Write and Talk to Selection Criteria was released in February 2015. Revised, updated and extended, this digital edition prepares a public sector applicant for 21st century skills, in an online environment, with a focus on value, results and contribution. It covers all the changes and demands listed above, with case studies illustrating the ideas presented.

You can read the Table of Contents to see the breadth of this new edition.

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.