Showing a potential employer or recruiter you meet a job's key selection criteria will help you progress through the hiring process. You should show a potential employer or recruiter you meet their selection criteria through your cover letter and CV. How well you present this information may determine whether you're asked for an interview or passed over. In this article, we will discuss what selection criteria are and how you can show potential employers and recruiters you meet theirs.
What are selection criteria?
Selection criteria are the skills, experience, understanding and educational qualifications employers and recruiters look for in candidates. Adding selection criteria to job advertisements helps employers and recruiters attract candidates who can do the job well. It also helps them compare each candidate's suitability. Candidates satisfying all the essential criteria and the greatest number of preferred criteria are the most suitable for the job.
Applicants who satisfy selection criteria should succeed in the vacant position. They may also require less training and upskilling than other candidates. Selection criteria usually fall into two categories:
- Essential: Applicants must meet these selection criteria.
- Preferred or desirable: Applicants should ideally meet these selection criteria, but it is not required.
Examining the different types of selection criteria and some common examples of each type will help you identify the selection criteria of jobs you're interested in:
Skills are the abilities people have that help them do a job well. Skills fall into two groups: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are technical, job-specific and usually learned through formal training. Soft skills are less technical and transferable to a variety of different jobs. Common skills in selection criteria include:
- The ability to work well in a team
- Strong time management skills including the ability to meet deadlines
- Typing speed of at least 60 words per minute
- Proficiency using Microsoft Office programs, including Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel
- Written and verbal communication skills
Experience is the activities or events that help you do something well. Employers often ask for candidates with experience doing the tasks required by the vacant position. Common experiences in selection criteria include:
- Project management experience
- Customer service experience
- Cash handling experience
- Previous work in a similar position
- Previous work in the business's industry
Understanding is knowledge or awareness of a specific topic area. Employers include selection criteria related to understanding when their vacant roles involve some technical knowledge. Common understanding selection criteria include:
- Understanding of current health and safety laws
- Understanding of safe food handling and hygiene practices
- Understanding of heating and cooling systems
- Understanding of modern cybersecurity practices
- Understanding of safe waste disposal practices
Educational qualifications are formal qualifications gained through high school, university, TAFE or a training school. Employers include educational qualifications that teach candidates the knowledge required for specific jobs. Common educational qualifications that form selection criteria include:
- Bachelor of Nursing
- Master of Business Administration
- Diploma of Counselling
- Certificate IV in Bookkeeping
- Responsible Service of Alcohol Certificate
How to show you satisfy job selection criteria
Once you find a job you think suits you well, you must convince the employer or recruiter you satisfy their criteria and are the right person for the role. Follow these steps to show you satisfy the job selection criteria:
1. Identify the selection criteria
Study the job description carefully and identify its selection criteria. Write a bullet-point list of the essential and preferred criteria. Essential criteria will usually appear near the words ‘essential', ‘must have' or similar. Preferred criteria will usually appear near the words ‘preferred,' ‘desirable' or similar. Look for the names of any degrees, diplomas or certificates, skills and experiences mentioned in the job description.
2. Research the employer
Researching the employer helps you understand why its selection criteria are important for the vacant position. Read through the company website and recent social media posts to learn more about the vacant role, the company's history and its mission. This exercise will help you understand more about the company's past, present and future so you can learn why selection criteria matter.
3. Compare and adapt your CV
Compare your curriculum vitae (CV) side-by-side with your list of selection criteria. You may like to highlight the criteria your CV already demonstrates. Note any skills, experiences and educational qualifications you have on your CV similar, but not identical to those on the job description. Adjust the language on your CV so it matches perfectly. This will make it clear that you're a suitable match. Highlight the points on your criteria list your CV now demonstrates.
Then consider any selection criteria you have not highlighted. If these criteria match skills, experiences and qualifications you have not mentioned in your CV, extend your CV to include these criteria.
4. Simplify your CV
Simplifying your CV shows you satisfy the job selection criteria more clearly. If you have paragraphs, condense them into bullet points. If your bullet points are long, shorten them or break them into several smaller points. Think about what information shows you meet the selection criteria and what does not. Delete any information which isn't relevant for the vacant position.
Read more: Resume Format Guide (With Examples)
5. Write your cover letter using STAR responses
Write a cover letter that expands on the way you satisfy the selection criteria using STAR responses. STAR stands for:
The best STAR responses are specific in their explanations. For example, writing ‘I wrote press releases about new product launches for Mayer's Chips' is much more specific and informative than writing ‘I wrote content for a snack food company.'
Include STAR responses that demonstrate how you meet the essential job criteria first. Start with a sentence that summarises how you meet each essential criterion. For example, if the criterion was ‘Must be fluent in Japanese' you might write:
'In the final year of my Bachelor of Education at Charles Sturt University, I had the opportunity to spend a year teaching English as a Second Language in Japan (Situation). I travelled to Japan and moved into a share house in downtown Kyoto, near a local elementary school where I would teach grade five and six students (Task).
During that year, I relied on speaking and understanding Japanese in my professional and personal life. I used a combination of Japanese and English in the classroom, which helped me connect the two languages better. When spending time with friends socially after class, I communicated almost entirely in Japanese (Action). I believe immersing myself in Japanese culture increased my confidence using the language and connecting it with English. I am now as fluent in Japanese as English (Result).'
Then include any examples which demonstrate ways you satisfy the selection criteria that aren't apparent in your CV. For example, imagine you are applying for a nursing job in an aged care home. The job description might say it prefers candidates with experience caring for the elderly. You may not have formal experience in this, but may have cared for an elderly relative in their home. This experience, which wasn't noted in your CV, is worth explaining in your cover letter.
Read more: How to Write a Cover Letter
6. Proofread your job application
Proofread your cover letter and CV to make sure they effectively show you satisfy the selection criteria. Your job application should demonstrate you satisfy all the essential job criteria and as many of the preferred job criteria as possible. Also, make sure your job application meets any employer requirements. For example, the employer or recruiter may want documents in PDF format, or there may be a word limit for cover letters.
Employers and recruiters typically scan applications to determine whether candidates are suitable for their roles. Scan your own documents to see whether it's immediately apparent how well you match the job criteria. Ensure your documents have concise sentences and relevant examples.
Make sure you look for spelling and grammatical errors and awkward phrasing which can undermine your application's effectiveness.
Once you feel happy with your own proofreading, ask a trusted family member or friend to read the job description and your application. Often a third-party can spot undetected errors or areas for improvement. Ask your loved one whether they would employ you for this role, and if not how you could alter your application to seem more desirable.
How to write a statement of claims against the key selection criteria
Some job advertisements, especially advertisements for government jobs, ask candidates to write a statement of claims against the key selection criteria (KSC). This is a more detailed document explaining how applicants satisfy each of the KSC. Think of it as an expanded version of your cover letter with a more structured organisation. As such, it should also have STAR responses.
Take note of any word or page limits in the job description or application package. If there is no limit listed, write a maximum of two pages. To write a statement of claims:
- Write each KSC in full as a numbered subheading. The order should correspond to the numbered KSC list in the job description.
- Expand each section. Under each subheading, write a short paragraph that summarises how you satisfy that particular KSC. Then provide two or three examples supporting your claims. These examples will form the bulk of each section.
- Write a concise closing statement. In one or two sentences, close your statement of claims by confirming your interest in the role.
Make sure you also proofread this document, just as you would the standard parts of any job application.