How to tackle an expression of interest

Government employers are increasingly using an expression of interest as a format for applications. These can be mystifying for people accustomed to writing to selection criteria. While there is no ‘one way’ to tackle the job of writing an expression of interest, it can help to have some ideas on format and content.

Most of the expressions of interest I’ve seen from applicants fall short because they:

  • Lack structure.
  • Don’t make a case for why they are a strong candidate.
  • Try to give examples on every criterion or skill set mentioned in the job description.

To ensure you write a strong case try these five steps.

Step 1 is to read very carefully the wording on how to apply. An illustrative example is:

‘Applicants are required to provide a summary (no more than 850 words) outlining your skills, knowledge and experience and why you should be considered for this vacancy. You should take into consideration the Job Overview (including any detailed position specific requirements) when drafting your response. Where possible include specific relevant examples of your work. When you include examples, you should:

Set the context by describing the circumstances where you used the skills or qualities and gained the experiences:

  • Detail what your role was
  • Describe what you did and how you did it
  • Describe what you achieved – what was the end result and how does it relate to the job you are applying for.’

Note that you are asked not only to outline skills, knowledge and experience mentioned in the Job Overview but also to outline why you should be considered for the vacancy. This is not just assuming this is self-evident from your coverage of skills, knowledge and experience. You need to make a case for ‘why’.

Step 2 is to carefully read the Job Overview and identify from the job description all the skills, knowledge and experience mentioned. The job description may be for a single role or several at a particular level. If the latter, you must pitch your case to the level of seniority of the roles. Note any selection criteria mentioned. Also note the specifics of the roles and the common factors. Some job descriptions will mention work that is common to all roles, such as project management, communication with stakeholders, research and analysis.

Step 3 is to collect your material from which you will compile your expression of interest. This material will include a log of incidents from which you can choose your best examples.

Step 4 is to write your expression of interest. This can be formatted around three sections:

A short opening paragraph that makes a succinct case for why you should be considered for the vacancy, based on your portfolio of relevant skills, knowledge and experience relevant to the roles.

Several example-based paragraphs which tell stories about how you have used your role-related skills to deliver results. These stories will be structured around the details asked for – context, role, action, results. Rather than taking criteria and skills separately, look for examples that combine skills. For example, a story about project management might combine communication with stakeholders, research and analysis, writing, team management.

A short closing paragraph that could indicate the contribution you wish to make and your enthusiasm for this opportunity.

Step 5 is to update and tailor your resume so that it complements your expression of interest.

An expression of interest is likely to require a different approach to a set of selection criteria, unless the instructions tell you to address the criteria. It is much more a selling document, one that captures your strengths and experience in a way that convinces the reader that you will make a valuable contribution.

For more information consider visiting the Product Store for the ebook How to Write Suitability Statements for Your Dream Job: Job statements and expressions of interest made easy.

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.