Two-Page Cover Letter Addressing the Statement of Duties

Two-page cover letter addressing the statement of duties/selection criteria

The format which has all but wholly replaced traditional selection criteria.

By Jacquie Liversidge

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How to write a 2-page cover letter that addresses government requirements

More and more, there are content length limitations placed on selection criteria responses, and the majority of the time, these are two pages, or roughly 1500 words. 

This has been implemented by the Commonwealth and most state governments in response to enormous selection criteria responses being submitted for government roles, jam packed with empty content which doesn’t demonstrate an applicant’s capabilities.

When applicants write their selection criteria, there is a tendency to fill the selection criteria with ‘padding’, or useless material, to increase the length with the idea that more is better.

Length certainly isn’t everything. When it comes to selection criteria, you want to get your material out quickly and efficiently with the most impact and the lowest word count.

You want to use your audience’s limited time well.

And this is where directions for a two-page cover letter come in to play.

How to spot it when it applies

Either on the applicant guide or the initial link to the prospective role, there will be a section titled ‘How to Apply’. 

Read this section carefully and make sure you are aware of what the directions are.

How to interpret the position description

Click on the position description and look over what is listed therein.

On the position description for most government applications, you will usually find the following sections titled exactly like this, or very similarly:

  • Position Objective
  • Role context
  • Duties
  • Responsibility
  • Knowledge, Skills and Experience (Selection Criteria – in relation to the major duties)

Selection criteria can also be called Essential Requirements, Role Specific Requirements, Success Criteria. Nonetheless, the easiest way to spot these questions are by looking for dot-pointed content that looks a bit like this:

eg. – Demonstrated ability to provide consumer-centred care

– Exceptional communication skills and conflict resolution skills.

– Proven report writing capabilities.

Once we have a good idea of the important background, context, and scope, and we’ve found the selection criteria we need to respond to, we can start on our content. Here’s a bunch of over ten detailed selection criteria examples to get you started.

Here’s an example of a two-page cover letter addressing the required sections Queensland Government. Increasingly, these questions are values based, as they were below:

Two-page statement example

The structure

  • Introduction: why you’re applying, what you’re offering, and why you’d be a great fit

  • The selection criteria question restated which is entirely optional. It’s also appropriate to skip this part, and move on to the next.

  • Our response, with the topic sentence (first sentence) repeating the question. (Do this for all questions)

  • A call to action (CTA) statement ending the cover letter

  • Professional sign-off

Tips, tricks, and other information to note:

If it’s a two-page cover letter for a government role, and it says nothing about addressing the requirements of the role, but there is selection criteria present, you do still need to address the selection criteria.

Traditionally, where the position description/advertisement asks for responses to the selection criteria, you would develop your questions and title them with the question. This approach is exactly the same, but incorporates the cover letter element of an introduction statement, and it simply does not contain the selection criteria within the documents as headings.

The point of the exercise is demonstrate your capability to perform in the role via examples of your ability to do that prior. The only part of the story which demonstrates your capability, are the actions that you took.

Focus on the inner content

Save your space for the real content that will get you selected by keeping your introduction short and to the point, and your call-to-action statement at the end within 2 sentences.

Introduction example: 

I wish to submit my application for the position of Communications Officer as listed on the Tasmanian Government jobs website. I am confident I would be an ideal candidate for the position given my extensive experience within the corporate communications environment, my proven successes in a variety of roles and my strong interest in supporting strategic objectives through strong external communication.

Call-to-Action example: 

Thank you for taking the time to consider my application for the role of Communications Officer. Please do not hesitate to contact me on the details contained herein for further information or to arrange an interview.

Keep your content focused on the selection criteria. Keep it concise and make every word count.

And that’s all folks. 

Happy hunting!

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