How to write a value-laden job application statement

Increasingly organisations are asking for statements from applicants about how their skills and experience match a job description. These statements may have word or page limits, such as 1000 words or no more than two pages.

To make a convincing case, applicants need to research the role and organisation, select relevant skills and experience, and make a case for how they will make a difference. And this last point is the key to a strong case. Most applicants can fill pages detailing their experience and skills, based on those listed in the job description. But few, including highly experienced people, can make a convincing link between what they have to offer and how it will benefit an organisation.

Where a job description asks for responses to the selection criteria, then this should certainly be a focus of the application. Some organisations however, will ask for a statement that focuses on match or contribution.

In order to make this link, first notice the wording of what is asked for.

  • Some organisations may simply ask for a covering letter.
  • Not for profit organisations may indicate what the central motivating factor is before inviting a resume and covering letter. For example, ‘If you wish to make a difference to disadvantaged youth …’ or ‘If you want to ensure access to quality legal services for marginalised people …’
  • You may be asked to focus on matching the job: Send a covering letter outlining how your experience and skills would be a good match along with a current resume.
  • You may be asked to focus on goals or strategy: Based on the above job description, please send a statement of no more than two pages, plus a resume, outlining how you will use your skills to support the organisation’s goals.

In order to respond well to these requests, consider the following actions:

  • Research the role, the organisation’s strategic goals, past performance, organisational chart, by trawling their website, publications including annual reports, newsletters and corporate plans.
  • Carefully read the job description to see how it fits in the organisational structure and what contribution is being sought to corporate goals and fixing problems the organisation may currently face.
  • Talk to the contact person to drill down into what issues are currently facing the organisation that impact on this role.
  • Identify your skills and experience that match the job requirements and the issues being faced.
  • Write a statement that summarises relevant experience and skills and makes a link to how these will be useful to solving the problems of the organisation.

It is this last action that is often missing from applicants’ statement. In other words, there is no link to the role and organisation to show how you will add value and be an asset. This can be achieved by including sentences that show you have done your homework and understand the organisation. For example, after outlining a skill or experience area, you could add:

  • This will mean that I can apply these skills in this role in order to …[eg achieve a certain result, make a difference, explained in quantifiable terms].
  • This means that I can apply these fundraising skills in this role in order to increase your cash flow by twenty per cent.
  • This means that I can apply these fundraising skills in this role to build a stronger financial foundation that will ensure program sustainability.
  • This means that I can apply these communication skills in this role to build your organisation’s public profile so that the community understands both your role and the services you offer. This in turn will help increase service usage, thereby meeting your goals of supporting disadvantaged youth.
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.