How to Address Key Selection Criteria in a Cover Letter
Updated 6 May 2023
Hiring managers often include a list of requirements for professionals looking to pursue a job with them. This list is called key selection criteria, and you can use it to help promote yourself in a cover letter when applying for a position. Learning how to add a company's required job role elements into your cover letter may help you find more success in your job search. In this article, we discuss what key selection criteria are and list nine steps for how to address key selection criteria in a cover letter.
What are key selection criteria?
Key selection criteria are the skills, education, work experience, certification and other requirements a company has for a professional to fulfil a role. You can use these keywords in your cover letter to discuss why you're qualified for the role. Hiring managers include these in job descriptions to help attract the right professionals to the position and let them know what to expect.
How to address key selection criteria in a cover letter in 9 steps
Here are a few steps on how to address key selection criteria in a cover letter:
1. Review the job description
Companies often include required selection criteria in the job description. All public sector roles include these criteria. As you review the job description, find the keywords to include in the body of your cover letter. This can help you determine if you have all or most of these required elements in your cover letter. It can also help you determine if the job you're applying for is the right role for you and your career path.
2. Paraphrase lines
If a job description doesn't include a specific selection of the job's required criteria, paraphrase the keywords used throughout the job description. For example, if a job description states, 'this professional is required to communicate professionally through different mediums of communication, such as email and letters'. You can interpret that this job requires you to have strong communication skills and to conduct yourself professionally. When you're writing your cover letter, you can mention your communication skills by providing example anecdotes of how you've used them in the past.
3. Outline your relevant experience
As you read the job description, create a list of your relevant experiences that match the required criteria. This can help you organise your thoughts. You can write each criterion listed in the description and write your relevant experiences next to it. By doing this, you can make sure you address each point in your letter.
4. Structure your letter
After making a list of your criteria, structure your letter. Creating structure in your letter is beneficial for you and the hiring manager reading your letter. The structure can help you organise your thoughts and ensure you're including all the right elements and fulfilling the company's requirements. This structure can help guide hiring managers as they're reading. Addressing certain ideas in your first paragraph allows them to know what the rest of your letter is going to discuss. Consider the following structure:
In the introduction of your cover letter, you can express your excitement for the role you're applying to. This includes stating the name of the job and company in the first or second sentence. Mentioning the names of the position and organisation helps the hiring manager understand the role you're applying for as soon as they read your letter. Additionally, it's helpful for them if the company has several roles open that they're hiring for.
After this, you can introduce more elements about yourself as a professional and why you're applying for this role. To do this, you can explain how the company's values align with your career goals. You may also share an example of the company's accomplishments you're impressed by.
The body paragraphs of your letter are where you can begin addressing the key selection criteria. You can begin by explaining your educational background and relevant work experiences. For example, if the job description requires you to have earned your bachelor's degree in communication and five years of work experience, talk about your degree credentials and the work you've completed since you've graduated. It's helpful to have your resume or CV with you as you're writing to ensure you're not repeating any information you've already stated.
In this section, you can describe your skills, certifications and other relevant criteria you possess that match the company's requirements. End the body paragraphs by sharing why you'd make a good fit for the company and the role. You may also use the body paragraphs to explain any career gaps.
To conclude your letter, restate your interest in the role and the company. Be sure to express gratitude towards the individual reading your letter. It's also beneficial to summarise your qualifications for the position in the conclusion paragraph. Before your sign-off, list two ways to contact you and your preferred contact methods, such as your phone number and professional email address.
Additionally, leave a call to action, like how you look forward to hearing from them to discuss your qualifications in further detail. This can help encourage the hiring manager to take action on your application if you fit the criteria.
5. Discuss each key selection criteria
If you have the space available, try to discuss each key selection criterion. For example, if you meet all the criteria except for one or two, you can focus on the requirements you meet. If you meet each one, discuss them in your letter. This can help you market yourself better to the hiring manager for the role.
6. Use examples
As you discuss how you meet the key selection criteria, use examples from your past work experiences. This can help the hiring manager envision how you can complete the required tasks for the company. When you use examples, you also provide evidence to your claims, especially if you have statistics or other ways to verify what you've done in previous roles.
7. Establish what you can do for a company
You may find it beneficial to include what you can do for the company rather than sharing what the role can do for you and your career goals. This allows the hiring manager to visualise how you can be an asset to the company and help them reach their goals. You can do this while you're discussing examples. For example, if you mention that you improved sales in your last role, you can say that you're looking forward to doing the same thing for this company.
8. End your letter with a sign-off
You can end your cover letter by using a closing statement and signing it with your first and last name. A few different sign-offs you can use to close your letter include:
Thank you for the consideration
9. Edit and proofread the letter
When you finish writing your letter, it's important to edit and proofread your work. You can do this by reading it aloud to yourself, which can help you catch grammar, syntax and flow errors you may not have noticed as you were writing. Additionally, you can ask your friends or family members to review your work and give you feedback. This can help you make important edits before submitting it to a company with your application.
A hiring manager may notice your letter is free of spelling errors and other writing challenges, which shows you pay close attention to details and take pride in your work. This can help differentiate you from other professionals who may share a similar background but have grammar or spelling errors in their work.
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