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4 common key selection criteria mistakes and how to avoid them

We’ve written before about the importance of making a good first impression when applying for a not-for-profit job – whether it’s with a killer cover letter or a flawless CV.

The third and final piece of many great community job applications is knocking ‘em dead with your key selection criteria responses.

If you’re worried that your key selection criteria responses might be holding you back, read on to find out how to avoid some common mistakes and hopefully land yourself an interview!

Mistake 1: Not providing clear examples

For each key selection criteria you should provide at least one example of a time that you have undertaken a related task and excelled at it. This involves talking about specific, concrete examples, and most importantly, what sort of outcomes you’ve achieved.

If you’re struggling to work out where to begin (and end) when providing examples for key selection criteria, you can use the STAR format to tell your story.

Here’s an example.

  1. Situation: What is the context for your story? You received a complaint from a client that your organisation provides care services to.
  2. Task: What was expected of you? It was your job to ensure client satisfaction and deal with all complaints.
  3. Activity: What did you do? You apologised to the client and then took the complaint to the next team meeting where you led the discussion as to what actions your organisation could take to rectify the problem.
  4. Result: What was the outcome? Your organisation formally apologised to the client and agreed to reassess their needs and provide them with a new care plan. The client was grateful for the outcome and continues to use your organisation’s services.

Mistake 2: Overlooking the contact person

Many of the job ads on EthicalJobs.com.au will include a contact person for that position. It might seem daunting to pick up the phone to a potential employer, but don’t let that stop you. It could mean the difference between an “okay” job application and an outstanding one!

Chatting to someone at the organisation gives you the opportunity to ask some specifics about the job. For example – if a key selection criterion is “must possess strong communication skills” you can ask questions like: Do you mean verbal or written skills? If verbal, can they give you an example of what verbal communication in that role looks like on a day-to-day basis? You can then ensure that you are providing relevant examples.

Contacting the organisation also has the added bonus of helping them to remember your name when sorting through stacks of applications!

Mistake 3: Not proofreading

With some jobs attracting hundreds of applicants, a small typo or grammatical error can mean your application is thrown on the “no” pile before it’s even been read. With that in mind, make sure you read and re-read key selection criteria responses before submitting. If possible, get a fresh set of eyes to look at it by having a family member or friend proofread it for you.

One tip for proofreading is to read through once for content and structure and then again just for grammar and typos. You’ll also be amazed at how many extra typos you’ll pick up when reading off a hard copy, so make sure you print the final version out for one last look over before you submit.

Mistake 4: Not selling yourself

Responding to the key selection criteria is about more than just listing your key responsibilities at previous jobs. It’s an exercise in reflecting on the great work you’ve done and making sure that your potential employer knows all about it. A job application is no time for modesty!

One of the most common mistakes is coming across as lacking confidence. One tell-tale sign is starting your sentences with “I think”. For example “I think that I am a highly organised person,” instead of “I am a highly organised person.”  You will sell yourself much better by removing those two simple words.

Try replacing  “I think”, “I could”, “I usually” or “I might” in your next key selection criteria response with “I am” or “I will”. It will instantly be a much stronger application!

If you’re applying for jobs we have lots other great articles that can help you through the process:

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