What is active and passive language in selection criteria?
The tiny change that makes a big difference.
By Jacquie Liversidge
When writing your selection criteria it’s important to know the difference between passive and active language.
Passive language is phrasing a response such as “the position required me to…” which doesn’t necessarily define an actual action. It’s true, the position may have required you to perform a particular task and action, but all positions require particular tasks and actions. Employers want to hear what you did, not what was required.
However, don’t avoid passive language entirely. Passive language can be great for setting the scene within a selection criteria.
Active language is phrasing a response like “I managed the team project by.” This is direct, firmly states that you completed the task and allows for a flow on response.
Selection criteria responses should be answered in the STAR approach: Situation, Task, Approach and Result.
Writing selection criteria using the STAR method applied to passive sentences will not deliver a response that the employer is seeking.
We hope this information helps you with developing clear responses.
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Don’t remove yourself from the topic. “I was required to complete tasks” and “I completed tasks” are two very different things.