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Why You Should Write your Criteria Responses Yourself, not use Selection Criteria Examples

In my first blog I addressed how to write a selection criteria. A strategy some people use to write a response to a selection criteria response is a sample they can follow; like selection criteria examples or templates. That’s a little like paint by numbers. You can fill in the boxes for that selection criteria example, but can’t apply it to a different job context. That’s like trying to take a paint by numbers flower and make it a beach scene. You don’t know how to get the numbers on the page in the first place. You will need a lot of templates to address all the possible criteria you’ll want to address.

With paint by numbers there is also no understanding on the part of the person why they are putting blue where it has the number 3 and yellow where it has 4; other than the fact “it works”.

With the scene set (pardon the painting pun) lets look at how selection criteria examples and templates are very limited when writing a good criteria response.

Reason #1 – Paint By Numbers

You buy a set of selection criteria examples, but, they have limited re-use. If you buy an administration selection criteria example, how are you going to apply that to a project officer role? How do you apply an IT selection criteria example to a customer service role?
Once again it’s paint by numbers; as long as you have a blue colour to put in the shape with the 3 in it, you’re okay. What happens when you have no blue, or, one of the shapes doesn’t have a number? Do you go back to the manufacturer and say your paint by numbers if faulty?
Templates have very limited application in much in life. If you were going into business, I could give you a profit and loss spreadsheet template but unless you understand:

  • Revenue
  • Cost of goods sold
  • Gross profit
  • Expenses, and,
  • Net profit

What can you do with the spreadsheet? Assuming you put the numbers in the right places, you’re still not going to understand it.

Reason #2 – Changing Frameworks Making Selection Criteria Examples Redundant

Government frameworks are practically endless, and they change all the time. Frameworks will be discussed in an upcoming blog. Queensland alone has had the following frameworks in recent years:

Roughly on average that’s a new framework for grading public service jobs every five years. If you think a framework goes from 153 to 9 and then to 16 pages and your templates still fit – I have to tell you in the immortal words of The Castle “Tell him he’s dreaming”.

What will stay current over all those changes are your skills when you learn to read, understand and respond to criteria. All of them. Not just specific selection criteria examples.

The skills I learned as a young public servant in the late 1990’s still apply today, and, with repeated use are very quick and easy to use.

Ask yourself how difficult a selection criteria example is to copy/paste off the internet? The reader will never spot it surely?

Reason #3 – Plagiarism

Plagiarism is surprisingly easy to spot in a job application, or a school assignment or a university paper. There’s a few kinds that really jump out.

  • Same content as someone else has used,
  • Content that is obviously written by different people, and,
    • The subset of that which is a selection criteria and resume that are obviously written by different people.

Detecting plagiarism is easily done with various tools, and, it is easy to see in the writing styles of different authors. I’m not aware are being used in government job application screening. That’s not a green light to plagiarise. Tools are easily replicated by basic internet searches using some pretty simple Boolean techniques.

Consider this, if I as a reader I think you have plagiarised, it is going to take me a few extra seconds to open a browser and do some searches. If I find you have plagiarised your application your credibility is pretty much done. That’s a high stakes affair as a job applicant. Assuming you want the job and you’ve taken the time to apply for, why risk your credibility? Do you think misrepresenting yourself or lying, are qualities I want in a person I employ? If I start to see you as someone willing to lie or misrepresent yourself to get a job, ? If you answered yes, please phone a friend and guess again!!

Reason #4 – It’s Easy to DIY

Learning to respond to a selection criteria can be learned in an hour or two. Seriously. It can. I have taught hundreds of people how to do it. You can learn a reusable skill to address any selection criteria for any job for:

  • The same money you’ll pay for a pack of single use templates, and/or,
  • The same time you’ll spend reading through those templates like a 1970’s clerk looking for one.

It’s an absolutely learnable skill, just no one has bothered to teach it so easily, before now.

The Takeaways

Purchasing selection criteria examples or templates are a high cost way of applying for jobs. They have limited reuse over time as frameworks change, and, limited application for roles other than they’re specifically for. They’re going to be hit and miss to use because you don’t understand why you’re putting in the words you are, and, how do you know you’ve selected the right template? Without the basic skills of understanding what you’re doing and why, you’re feeling your way in the dark.

For the same cost that you could purchase some selection criteria examples, you can very easily learn the skills yourself. Learning the skills is a one off cost you’ll get value from for life, and, you’ll be able to apply the skills to any role you apply for.

My working life went from social welfare officer, to police officer, to intelligence analyst, to IT account manager, to IT system manager and now a manager of a big data/Cloud analytics team. There are no selection criteria examples that allow you to make that transition; that is having the skills to read a job description and apply your relevant skills to the application. That is exactly what I set out to teach in Criterial’s online courses.


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