When given a page or word limit, it’s a part of the assessment and the pitch could be automatically rejected for being over, even by a few words!
3 Emerging Trends in Key Selection Criteria Writing
- Two-Page Covering Letter/Selection Criteria Responses
- One-Page Cover Letter / Selection Criteria Writing Service
- Three-Page Covering Letter/Selection Criteria Responses
- Four-Page Covering Letter/Selection Criteria Responses
- Six-Page Covering Letter/Selection Criteria Responses
- Five-Page Covering Letter/Selection Criteria Responses
Bob Dylan hit the nail on the head when he said, “Times they are a changing”, and the same is true of the often-dreaded selection criteria for job applications.
What’s going on with Key Selection Criteria? What do current employers want to see?
Gathering the generous thoughts and impressions from my fellow writers and the talented Executive Agents coaching team, we came up with some answers to these questions. As Senior Career Coach Nikki Taylor pointed out, “these trends are always evolving, and what employers are looking for can vary depending on the industry and job role”.
A Shift from Long to Short and Sweet
As a team, we have been noticing a shift from long, individual Key Selection Criteria (KSC) answers to shorter pitches and statements of claim. These can be one to two pages or have a specified word limit such as 500 or 600 words.
This shift means there’s a new way to answer selection criteria with the key being showing (not telling) selection panels about your skills set and experience, all within a tighter space. Every word counts now and it’s more akin to a marketing exercise, with you being the product!
We have also detected two contrasting trends over the last couple of years. Firstly, aligned with the shift above, KSCs appear to be trending toward being much more specific to a department and function than they used to be. This is especially true for high-level roles and positions in prestigious institutions such as Universities.
For those high-level positions, respected organisations and specialised recruiters appear to be more proactively narrowing down the field to just a few candidates from the outset. Anna Daly, our Senior Writer and specialist in the academic field, gave an example of this. Previously it was common to see a selection criteria question asking for proof of impact through publication. Now, they will ask that publication be in a specific area, for example, Russo Hungarian relations. She attributed this increasing specification to two main factors: the overwhelming number of applications and the importance of reputation, “The more prestigious an institution, the more comfortable they feel about asking for highly specialised skills that very few people would have”.
Pushing in the opposite direction and causing headaches and confusion along the way, is the trend in some large complex organisations (both public and private) that are posting KSCs and Position Descriptions (PDs) that can seem indecipherable at times. When discussing this, we pondered the idea that HR departments in these large organisations seemed to be trying to standardise PDs and KSCs due to the sheer amount they have to churn out daily. This runs in contra to what many roles actually require and what is preferred by the department/team seeking to fill the role, creating bewilderment across the board.
A change in emphasis and desired content
Move with the times or you could become obsolete. This is true of all things, but particularly pertinent for today’s (but perhaps not tomorrow’s!) selection criteria answers.
Combining the exceptional input from the career experts at LME coaching and our team of writers, we came up with this non-exhaustive list of key competencies that are currently trending and should be considered when answering KSC questions, even if not explicitly stated.
- Digital Literacy: With the increased use of technology in the workplace, employers are looking for candidates who are digitally literate and can adapt to new software and programs quickly. Candidates who can demonstrate their proficiency in digital skills such as social media management, data analysis, and online communication are highly sought after.
- Soft Skills: The EQ to IQ balance. Soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, de-escalation of conflicts, collaboration, and adaptability are also highly valued. Employers are looking for candidates who can work well with others, navigate complex workplace situations with ease and adapt to transitions and change.
- Cultural Fit: There is an increasing interest in finding candidates who will fit in with a particular company culture. This means that candidates who can demonstrate that they share the values and beliefs of the organisation and can contribute to a positive work environment are highly sought after.
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I): Related to the above, this is becoming ever more pertinent, and involvement in committees or initiatives in these areas can give you an additional boost.
- People First: There has also been a shift to an increasing focus on people and their wellbeing in the workforce and achieving goals with a more customer-centric focus.
- Industry Experience: Candidates with relevant industry experience are highly valued, as they can hit the ground running and require less training. Additionally, employers are seeking candidates who can bring a fresh perspective and innovative ideas to their organisation, while also demonstrating a solid understanding of the industry.
- Qualifications: While not always necessary, having relevant qualifications can help candidates stand out from the competition. Employers are looking for candidates who have the appropriate qualifications and training to perform the job at a high level.
- Risk Management: In the wake of COVID-19 this has become ever more relevant, as has collaboration across the organisation to mitigate risks.
Good luck, and if you need a helping hand to shape the perfect pitch or express your unique selling proposition and key career achievements in a longer KSC document, we are here to help.
Here at Executive Agents, we specialise in not only elevating the standard of your job application but to make it unique and distinctive. Get in touch today for a free consultation.