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SAR is the key to KSCs: Responding to Key Selection Criteria

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

So, your dream job is up for grabs and you start your application.

The only problem is they want you to respond to the Key Selection Criteria (KSC) but you have no idea how to do this.

key selection criteria KSC responses

KSC responses are generally required for government and university job applications, and are sometimes required for corporate and not-for-profit roles.

And even if a job ad doesn't specifically ask for a KSC response, it's always a good idea to explain how you meet the KSC in your cover letter - a couple of examples will help your application to stand out from the crowd. So, how on earth do you do this?

You basically need to demonstrate how you meet each of the slection criteria by giving an example from your current or a previous role. The best way to give an example is using the SAR method, which is:

  • describing the Situation (what was the problem or challenge, and what was your role?)

  • then describing what your Action was (what did you do to solve it?)

  • and what the Result was (preferably describing the benefit to the organisation).

The SAR method can also be called the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) or SAO method (Situation, Action, Outcome) but they are essentially the same thing.

So what does this look like? Below is an example. Note that it's nice to have a leading statement (or introduction) before you launch into your SAR example.

KSC: Demonstrated experience in managing diverse stakeholders and clients

Leading statement: My greatest strength is my ability to develop relationships and work effectively with different stakeholders, including my staff and other internal stakeholders as well as many external stakeholders such as suppliers. Situation: For example, when I worked at XYZ I managed a large project that required coordination of teams in several diverse locations in order to implement a new ABC. Action: I ensured that I got to know the key stakeholders at each location and found out their unique challenges. I then led weekly teleconference meetings, ensuring all voices were heard and any issues were flagged and clear action plans implemented. I did... [add a few more actions].

Result: The ABC was implemented on time and with minimal issues. The team worked well together, and I was commended for my leadership of the project by head office.

The SAR/STAR method is also a great way to describe your achievements, and can be used throughout your resume or CV. However, try to keep your resume achievements to 2 lines, so you won't be able to go into as much detail.

The SAR structure is also the method you'll need to respond to job interview questions.

So keep SAR in mind next time you are updating your resume, cover letter, prepping for job interviews, and of course, in a specific response to the KSC.

Looking for some free advice on how to update your resume so that it's modern and professional? Download the 5 Step Resume Makeover Challenge.
Need some help updating your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn and responding to key selection criteria? You need the Not Just a Resume Template Program! It includes a module on Key Selection Criteria responses (standalone, in a letter, and in a capability statement).
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