Where to go for Selection Criteria help

Selection Criteria

If you are a stranger to the Australian government selection process, or even a government pro, then at some stage, you might be looking for some selection criteria help and assistance.  While there is less emphasis these days on long and complex responses to selection criteria, they still exist at many agencies. Plus, even if you don’t need to address selection criteria in a separate document, you still need to address them within a cover letter (generally 2 pages). These are your options:


If you are not familiar with the government process, you need to get familiar. Did you know?

  • Government applications get marked and scored, just like an examination.
  • That you need to provide evidence against each criterion and that it is essential that you use a selection criteria model such as STAR, CAR, SAR or PAR.
  • That unless you address all the criteria AND you meet the vast bulk of the criteria you won’t get shortlisted.
  • That it is likely that you will be competing against internal applicants. These internal applicants have sometimes been acting in the position for months, occasionally a year or more.
  • That nepotism within government still exists, (although this is very rare).
  • That the selection process is very formal and rigid and based on legislation.

The two DIY selection criteria resources I would recommend:

How to Write and Talk to Selection Criteria, by Dr Anne Villiers 

How to GET IN and GET PROMOTED in the Public Service Sector, by Carolyn Smith

Disclaimer: I’m the author of How to GET IN and GET PROMOTED in the Public Service Sector. While I think it is still one of the best resources out there and I’ve sold thousands of copies, I’m obviously biased.

Unfortunately there are no comprehensive free resources online, but many of the University and Government sites provide straightforward guidance, which is an excellent starting point.


If you simply don’t have the time, or you want to work with a professional selection criteria writer then there are services out there that can assist you. However, not all services are created equal, so be wary before you part with your dollars.  To assist you with your decision:

You generally (not always) pay for what you get

Addressing selection criteria can be a very time consuming exercise, even for a professional. If someone is only invoicing $200 – $300 for this service (for several criteria), then ask yourself why? Even as a professional with 12 years practice, I still take at minimum a day or more to complete an application (and I’m considered quick in the industry). So if someone is charging $200, they are either making just $30,000 to $40,000 a year (after expenses), or they are short changing you on quality.

Check their expertise and specialisation

In career services, there are generalists and specialists. Government applications are a VERY specialist area, so you want to make certain that the professional you select has expertise within government.  Areas to check:

Have they got industry recognition? Top professionals are qualified, have published books, author blogs, have speaking engagements and have endorsements from professional associations. (Please note: Some people fraudulently post endorsements online, so check directly with the professional association to make sure what they are posting is true).

Find out how long they have been in business: Unfortunately anyone can tell you they are an expert selection criteria writer even though they have only written a couple of applications. The best way to determine whether they are credible is to work out how long they have been in business. The old kids on the block are there because generally they are good and stood the test of time.

Understand their guarantee: I don’t guarantee interview success, simply because I can’t guarantee something I can’t control. As a government writer, I can only guarantee to my clients that I will represent them in the best possible light. I have no control over whether internals are applying, or whether candidates better qualified than my client applied – hence not being able to guarantee an interview. If they are guaranteeing an interview, read the fine print (there is generally a catch).

Check references: If the references sound contrite, bland or false, trust your instinct, they generally are not real.

Plan ahead

Don’t procrastinate – the good and reputable writers are always in demand. If they can meet a very tight deadline, be cautious, as the best selection criteria writers tend to get booked up quickly.

Finally, unlike resume writing services, it is more difficult to secure selection criteria help. However, the good news is, that most people with the right DIY resource can write an application that ensures they get through to interview and if you plan ahead, there are some very good writers out there, that will be able to assist you.

Good luck!

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