Demonstrate You Fit the Job Criteria

Throughout the application process, you should aim to demonstrate evidence of the skills and qualities specified in the job description and person specification. If these are not provided, or if you are making a speculative application, then create a list of the skills and qualities you expect the organisation is looking for (based on your wider research about who they are and the type of work they do).

You could create this list from your knowledge of the sector, by reading the skills sections of the sector briefings on this site, by networking with professionals, or by reading adverts for similar positions.

Choose examples from your life

Having made the list of job criteria, you should then make a note of examples that demonstrate you have the skills or experience they are looking for.

You can demonstrate these by using examples from your work experience, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities and academic experiences. Try to find examples from a range of activities.

  • Give specific examples and evidence – don’t generalise
  • Think of evidence that you can quantify: how much, how many, how often
  • Vary your use of examples, and draw from different areas of your life
  • Don't forget to include weekend, part-time or holiday jobs. These often demonstrate skills recruiters are looking for eg: strong communication skills and the ability to work under pressure, with a wide range of people. 
  • Draw on your most recent relevant experiences and achievements wherever possible.

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Sample Job Description

Researcher - The ABC Group Graduate Programme

We are specialist advisers to corporate owners and high net worth individuals. We have built a strong reputation for working with companies and individuals, to enhance their business and personal finances. This has been achieved through the development and design of highly specialised services  for our clients.

As a researcher you will work closely with and support our client advisory teams, conducting in-depth research and due diligence to help them provide specialist and comprehensive advice to our clients. 

Job Requirements:

  • Achieved (or predicted) a 2:1 or above in any degree discipline
  • Very strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to work well in a team environment
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Ability to multi-task and manage workload and responsibilities
  • Interest in business and finance 
  • Good working knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite

My Evidence

  • Achieved/Predicted 2:1
    • Yes
  • Communication skills
    • Written: Author of college bi-weekly Arts Newsletter; social media manager for college drama society; weekly essays and dissertation 
    • Verbal: Private tutoring GCSE students; school debating team; presentation of 2nd year project 
  • Ability to work well in a team environment
    • Member of college drama society, working with cast members and technicians to stage annual summer play
    • Vacation job at restaurant, working with team of 6 other waiters to ensure smooth running of food service
    • Worked with team of 4 to advise client (local cafe owner) on how to increase number of customers as part of the Oxford Strategy Challenge (TOSCA) programme
  • Strong attention to detail
    • Editing bi-weekly college Arts Newsletter; writing and editing drama society social media posts; vacation job, ensuring customer orders are correct and reconciling till receipts
  • Ability to multi-task and manage workload and responsibilities
    • In vacations, balance restaurant job with private GCSE tutoring; research and write x 2 essays per week alongside college drama society responsibilities and training and competing as member of college 2nd XI Football team.
  • Interest in Business & Finance
    • Member of OU Finance Society; took part in Careers Service programmes "Insight into Strategy & Management" and "The Oxford Strategy Challenge" (TOSCA)
  • Good working knowledge of Microsoft Suite
    •  As part of TOSCA project, recorded survey responses using Excel; presented findings and recommendations to client via PowerPoint presentation.

Include these and other relevant examples when writing your CV, cover letter, application form and at the interview. At interview, don't be afraid to make reference to examples used in your written application - just make sure you expand on the information and make it relevant to the question. 

Structuring responses: the STAR technique

In cover letters, application forms and interviews, you may find the STAR approach (Situation, Task, Action, Result) helps you to frame a clear structure when providing an example experience.

  • Describe a situation (very brief)
  • Explain the task you had to do
  • Set out clearly, specifically and with detail – the actions you took. Make sure it's clear what your specific responsibilities/tasks were
  • And finally, describe the result  - quantify if appropriate eg: increased member attendance numbers by 45%


Action verbs

In written applications, you can convey your relevant skills and experience with impact by using action verbs. These can help make an application stand out, particularly if you start bullet-points with them. Here are some examples:

Accomplished • Achieved • Administered • Advised • Advocated • Analysed • Assembled • Authorised • Awarded • Budgeted • Captained • Chaired • Coached • Completed • Conducted • Co-ordinated • Counselled • Created • Decided • Delivered • Demonstrated • Designed • Determined • Developed • Devised • Directed • Discovered • Earned • Edited • Employed • Enabled • Encouraged • Engineered • Enjoyed • Ensured •  Established • Evaluated • Examined • Expanded • Explained • Facilitated • Founded • Gained • Generated • Handled • Identified • Implemented • Improved • Increased • Initiated • Instituted • Instructed • Interviewed • Invented • Launched • Led • Managed • Marketed • Maximised • Mediated • Negotiated • Obtained • Operated • Organised • Oversaw • Performed • Planned • Prepared • Presented • Prioritised • Produced • Promoted • Raised • Ran • Recognised  • Recommended • Reconciled • Recruited • Represented • Responsible • Saved • Set up • Simplified • Solved • Supervised • Targeted • Transformed

If you feel you lack experience and don’t have time before an application to gain more, don’t panic! Think about relevant transferable skills  - you may have gained these as part of your course/studies 

For example, you could:

  • Mention particularly relevant subjects/modules; extended essay/dissertation/thesis; field work and other research projects.
  • Highlight the tutorial system: ability to see both sides of an argument; thinking on your feet; explaining your views to others; presenting information; and coping with pressure.
  • Remember skills gained from personal study: time management; research skills; analytical and critical thinking; identifying key points; summarising/synthesising information; structuring arguments.

If you're still struggling to find examples to demonstrate you fit the job criteria.....Pause and reflect about whether this is the right job for you to apply to at this time.

Don't forget, you can use the job criteria as a guide for skills you may need to develop for future applications to the sector and/or similar roles. It may also be a better use of your time to focus on applying to other roles, where there is a closer alignment between your experience and the job description.

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