What are capability statements?

When you apply for positions in the Australian public service, state government departments or local councils you are often required to prepare a capability statement as part of the application process. Capability statements are used for administrative, professional, operational and technical positions and for senior executive roles. In many organisations capability statements have replaced the previous requirement of responding to a number of selection criteria. Capabilities are quite similar to selection criteria. They are simply the knowledge, skills, and attributes required to undertake a job successfully.

In job descriptions the capabilities required for the role will often be listed under these types of headings:

  • “Is this role for you?”
  • “Are you the right person for this role?”
  • “How will you be assessed for this role?”

There are usually 5 or 6 capabilities and sometimes there are sub headings under each one. The most common capabilities that you will find in job descriptions are (or are similar to):

  • Supports strategic direction
  • Achieves results
  • Supports productive working relationships
  • Displays personal drive and integrity
  • Communicates with influence

The “How to apply” section of the job description will usually ask you to develop a statement that summarises how your skills and experiences match up with these capabilities (in relation to the duties of the job). The standard length of the statement is 2 to 3 pages, although some departments do not specify a word length.

What are capability statements?

You have probably noticed that many government departments seem to use the same capabilities, or slightly different versions of the same capabilities, in their job descriptions. This is because they are often based on the same “capability framework”. Every state government across Australia has its own capability framework and some big departments (such as Health) have their own tailored frameworks. The Australian Public Service has the “Integrated Leadership System” capability framework and local governments within each state also have their own frameworks. Every framework has its own capabilities that in turn are broken down into several components and behaviours. These can also change depending on the level of the position. They are long, complicated documents that people often find confusing and hard to follow. They are very important though as every stage of the recruitment process will be based on how well your experience matches the information in them.

Creative ideas for each segment

Each selection criterion requires creativity which comes from our professional KSC writing team. They will brainstorm various ideas from your recent work history and distinguish examples confined to that which is relevant to the designated criteria. This is the stage of the writing process in which the creative generation of numerous examples showing your ability to meet specified criterion is taken on by Selection Criteria Writers.

In-house review of your capability statement

This is the stage of selection criteria where your application is reviewed carefully to ensure the following steps are completed:

  • Use of positive and specific language by avoiding ambiguous expressions (which could potentially reduce credibility)
  • Use of strong action terms by avoiding passive language when describing your qualifications and experience
  • Address every aspect of required criterion with structurally sound written communications, express opinions, data and key points while writing engaging and expressive selection criteria

The selection panel reviews your capability statement and determines how well your skills match up with the capabilities in the job description and the components and behaviours in the relevant capability framework.

While similar experience is considered important, the most crucial consideration is how your capabilities line up with the ones in the job description. Also, while your resume is still important and must support your claims in the capability statement, it is the quality of your statement that will predominately determine if you get an interview for the role.