First impressions count, a lot. It may be superficial, but we humans form opinions of people and things almost instantly. The impression we form in those first few seconds can influence our opinion long after we have learned more information.
The dating app Tinder is based entirely on this aspect of human psychology. A quick glance at a profile picture and then swipe right on someone’s profile to indicate that you’d like to get to know more about them, or swipe left to pass and move onto the next person.
Reading resumes is similar. Studies have shown that recruiters spend just 6 seconds making a decision about a resume. That’s not enough time to read everything you’ve so carefully written, so a lot of it comes down to visual appeal.
When applying for a job you may be asked to address the Key Selection Criteria (KSC), which describe the personal qualities, skills, abilities, knowledge and qualifications a person needs to perform the role effectively. Some of these criteria will be regarded by the employer as essential requirements for the job, others may be desirable. Employers assess the responses of all applicants to each criterion in order to shortlist candidates for interview. It is important that you understand the correct format for addressing key selection criteria, including how each employer wants you to document your responses, and how to present clear examples using the STAR model.
Examples of key selection criteria
- Sound oral and written communication skills
- Ability to work as part of a team
- Excellent organisational skills
- Good research skills
- Good problem solving and analytical skills
- Degree in Behavioural Science
- Experience using statistical software packages such as SPSS
- Current Victorian Driver’s licence
How to respond to key selection criteria
First, it is best to check the method preferred by the employer. Usually they would mention this in the job advertisement or position description. If not, then contact them to clarify how they want you to include this information in your application. The usual way to address the KSC is to create a separate document (not as part of your cover letter) with a title of ‘Responses to Key Selection Criteria’. You would then type the criterion as it appeared in the position description and beneath that, type your response. Then repeat for each criterion until you have addressed them all. If the employer has not specified a word limit, write at least one paragraph explaining how you have demonstrated a particular skill or quality. Allow plenty of time to write your response to the KSC. The whole process is almost like writing a 1500 –2000 word essay.
Analyse each criterion to identify the skills and attributes being rated, then think of scenarios from work, study, volunteering, sports and other activities that could be used to illustrate your skill. If possible, use a different example for each criterion and structure your response using the STAR model.