4 How to present yourself to an employer
Many employers are moving towards a competency-based assessment of candidates.
Competencies are a set of knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviours. When you apply for a job an employer will ask for a range of these and you need to show how you can meet these by providing evidence.
The basic idea behind competency-based recruitment is that if you can demonstrate you did something in the past, you can do it in the future.
So, if you come across this it means you have to adopt a particular approach to be successful. Fortunately, there are techniques that greatly increase the chances of success.
Activity 3 will have refreshed your skill in using ‘evidence’ of what you have done in the past to show what you are capable of now. You can now enhance this by learning to use a technique that is very useful for answering competency based questions you might find on an application form.
It is a widely used technique known as ‘STAR’.
When using this technique, you think about a specific piece of experience you want to offer up and describe it in the following way.
- Situation – Think about a specific situation and when it happened.
- Task – Was a task required in that situation and what were you supposed to achieve by completing it?
- Action – What action(s) did you take to complete the task?
- Results – Think about the outcome of the actions you took.
This really helps you to organise your thoughts. However, this technique alone may not keep you entirely on track, so it can be used in combination with another known as ‘RAPPAS’. This translates as:
- Relevant – The skill you put forward needs to be relevant to what is being asked for.
- Action –Include what you actually did (rather than what you might do if in a hypothetical situation), or something you learned.
- Personal – Focus on what you personally did, rather than what other people did or what happened generally. Don’t say what ‘we’ did, say what ‘I’ did.
- Positive – Use a situation with a good outcome, even if everything was not achieved as planned.
- Appropriate – You need to feel comfortable to talk about the situation, so choose examples which would allow this.
- Specific – Give one example, not a mixture of different examples.
It is easier to understand this when you see it in practice, so in the next activity you’ll review someone else’s attempt before trying it with yourself.
Activity 4 Suzy’s competency evidence
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Practising with someone else’s example is a good way to get a feel for what works, and what does not. However, it is always better to use your own example, so if you have time you might want to revisit Activity 4 now. This is not essential though because you will revisit the technique in Week 7.
So far this week, you have considered the need to:
- find out about the work and what skills are needed
- make of the most of the main skills you have that are required to do the job and provide examples that show these skills.
Next you need to think about how to complete an application form and make sure you do yourself justice.