Across all roles in Australian State and Territory Governments, as well as Local and Federal Governments, prior to commencing the processing of drafting selection criteria responses, it is important you find out character/word length limit for each criterion, or an overall page length limit to address all the selection criteria. Producing a document that contains too little or too much information is a killer, plus it demonstrates to them you have not followed direction/instruction.
There are four ways in which you can determine this information. I would use all four as many times there can be contradictions from one source to another:
(1) Read the job advertisement (ad) carefully. Typically toward the end/bottom of the ad will state if selection criteria needs to be addressed with corresponding word, character or page length limit.
(2) Read the role/job/position description or application kit (document typically used for Federal Government roles) to determine if they have stipulated word length limit for each criterion. Federal Government is big on stipulating word length limits; the maximum limit differs dependent on the department.
(3) Log in to the department’s portal and go through the steps, it’s not unusual where they will have pull down boxes with character or word lengths stipulated; plus, it’s not unusual that additional questions may require addressing as well. This is why I never ever recommend clients leave the submission process until the last minute. I always advise clients to submit on the evening before or around midday on the day of closing, which will give you enough time if you have to provide additional information, or encounter problems with internet service connectivity either on your end or theirs (I have a few horror stories to tell regarding the latter).
(4) Call and/or email the contact person listed on the job ad to ask them about the requirements.
I have been meaning to write an article along these lines for quite some time; in light of several clients who have advised me over the past two weeks of criteria requirements just as they were about to apply, prompted me to write this article and warn you all. For example, I worked with one client very recently and advised her to use the above sources to find out whether there were any limits to the criteria requirements for a role in the Tertiary sector. Typically (99% of the time), no requirements in terms of word count or page length are given for roles advertised in the Tertiary sector. My client tried calling the contact person but received no response or call back, she checked the role description, and logged in to the portal with nothing specified. I asked if she checked all other sources such as the job ad and she confirmed. I gave my professional opinion as to suitable requirements – a three-page document would suffice in addressing the criteria. Unfortunately on the day of submission, my client re-read the job ad only to find it specifically stated that the entire criteria component should be addressed in one page!
To my loyal readers, prospective new and existing clients, please do yourselves a big favour and find out exactly what is needed before starting the process – it will save you a big headache, frustration, anxiety as well as $s in the long run. Double and triple check before you get started!
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