How to Write a Successful Selection Criteria

hospital pharmacy pharmacist careers Jun 21, 2022

So you’ve found a hospital job you want to apply for? Great! Except for one thing…. the selection criteria.  Maybe you’re stuck on how to word your community pharmacy experience to fit the selection criteria. When you don’t know where to even start, you’ll find yourself putting off applying altogether, and we don’t want that! It’s no surprise that an unwritten (or poorly written) application won’t get you closer to that dream hospital job my friend! 

Writing your first selection criteria for a hospital job can feel hard and overwhelming. I know, because I’ve been there before. But I now have a step-by-step process that ensures nothing is missed and that the best and most transferable skills are front and centre on the page. This is the same process I use in my resume and selection criteria service when helping my one-on-one pharmacists, and I’m going to share it with you. After reading this post, you too will be able to successfully and confidently write a selection criteria that hits the mark, giving you the best chance of getting the interview - and the job! 

The role description

Recently I looked back on the first application I ever submitted for a hospital job in 2015 (which I incidentally didn’t get). While it wasn’t entirely terrible, I had selectively picked out parts of the role description that suited me and didn’t address other parts. I had also written a lot of filler sentences, which was a waste of valuable space when the response often has to fit onto 2 pages. 

If you have written a selection criteria before, it may be tempting to use it again. While it makes sense not to recreate something from scratch, you should check carefully that what you’ve included is still relevant for the job you are applying for. 

To start, print off the role description and sit down with a highlighter. As you read through, highlight any ‘buzz” words. You’ll know them when you see them. Words like ‘prioritise’, ‘organisation’, and ‘patient-centered care'.  The role description is telling you exactly what they are looking for in a candidate's response, so use the words they give you. 

Structuring your application  

If you're still feeling stuck, it’s probably because you don’t have the structure planned out. Once you have this, you'll have some direction, and the words should follow. 

Please remember that you are a healthcare professional and you are applying for a professional position. Your application should show that you recognise this, and in turn, have given the process the time and effort it deserves. This means a high level of written work. There should be an introduction, clear paragraphs throughout, and a conclusion. This may be commonsense, but I still see applications that are one sprawling page of words. Please don’t do it. It looks bad and it’s hard to read. Think about this blog post for example. It is much easier is it to read text that is in paragraphs and addresses one topic or idea at a time. 

As a minimum, you should also include the following:

  • The date
  • A footer with your full name 
  • Page numbers

Begin by addressing the letter to the person nominated in the job advertisement. Personalise it to the person doing the hiring and reference the job application number and position title.

Your first paragraph is your introduction. You may like to start with an opening sentence such as “I would like to submit my application for the above role” or “I would like to express my interest in the pharmacist position advertised”. Then include a sentence or two about the key attributes or responsibilities of the position, stating that you believe you are an ideal candidate for the position. Remember, this is the introduction and in the following paragraphs, you are going to tell them exactly why you are an ideal candidate. 

Each paragraph should address a section or two of the selection criteria. A two-page response will have between 8 to 10 paragraphs.

Responding to the criteria

How are you at writing assignments? Because this is what writing your selection criteria kind of feels like. You’re researching and gathering information about the hospital and the job role. You are brainstorming, thinking of examples you can use. Then you are structuring your writing, formatting your document and proofreading.

To start this assignment, find the section called “selection criteria” or something similar. Some jobs list it under “how you will be assessed”.

Copy and paste each of the criteria into a word document. Each one of these will become a paragraph. If the criteria asks for two things, then you could split this into two paragraphs. Here’s an example: 

“Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively as part of a team and independently with limited supervision" 

In a hospital environment, you will be working within a multidisciplinary team, which can include other pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurses, doctors, allied health, and administration staff. Provide an example of your current or previous job where you worked in a team to achieve an outcome or improve patient care. You can discuss collaboration, communication and leadership skills, conflict management, problem solving and prioritisation. If you haven’t worked in a multidisciplinary team before, or are a recent graduate, that’s okay! Use another example, such as implementing a new service, making a change, or planning an event. 

Note the use of the word “demonstrated”. This is a verb. It expresses an action. Simply stating that you work collaboratively and independently is not sufficient. Include an example or two. But be succinct. Using the STAR format is the best way to go. 

A side note - if the first criteria is related to AHPRA registration, you can address this in one or two sentences at most. Ensure your AHPRA number is listed on your resume. The hiring team will look this up anyway. 

Once you’ve finished, re-read it and remove any repetitive statements or filler words. The app Grammarly is excellent for this. It not only picks up spelling and grammatical errors, but it can suggest changes to make your writing more concise. There is a free version too. Just be careful as it defaults to American spelling. You can change it to Australian spelling in the language settings. 

If your application is online you can go ahead and copy and paste your response into the boxes. Before you begin, you may want to see what each box is asking for. Most forms won't allow you to move forward without filling in each box. To get around this, just put one character into each box and then save it as a draft to go back and forth. 

Application submitted! 

So whether you are just starting hospital applications, or you’re familiar with the process already, you now have a clear approach to writing your selection criteria. If you’ve been hesitating on submitting an application, or haven’t felt confident,  this process will help you successfully and confidently write your selection criteria, and bring you that step closer to a new career path! 

But please remember that the process isn’t easy for anyone, especially if you are transitioning into hospital pharmacy. While you may not be successful the first time, you will gain more confidence and clarity as you go.  And if you feel you need more support on your journey, get in contact with me at [email protected] .

Now go and get writing!