As a Labour Relations advisor, I sometimes get questions from FIs about best practices when applying to competitions or undergoing exams or interviews. Supporting FIs’ professional development is one of ACFO’s highest priorities, so I thought it might be helpful to compile a list of “dos and don’ts” for increasing your likelihood of success when applying for a position.
DO read the instructions for all competitions, applications, tests, exams, interviews etc. very carefully and follow them exactly.
DO include all documents requested for a competition with all the relevant information (i.e. if a posting requests that you include the same information on both a resume and cover letter, do so).
DON’T forget to align your documents and ensure that information is consistent across your resume, cover letter and responses to screening questions.
DO clearly state how you meet all the essential qualifications listed in the competition. Neglecting to refer to one of them can result in your application being disqualified.
DON’T hesitate to repeat the specific phrasing used in the competition. It may seem strange to a respond to a competition requiring, for example, six years of experience in costing by saying “I have six years of experience in costing,” but use the exact wording. You can and should elaborate afterwards.
DO give clear, detailed examples of how, when and where you obtained the required experience. Provide as much information about your experience as possible while staying within the maximum paragraph or word length.
DO be careful to distinguish between “and” and “or” when describing your experience criteria.
DON’T misrepresent your credentials, experience or the length of time spent in a specific position. The ramifications of doing so can go beyond disqualification from the position to which you are applying. You also run the risk of being disciplined or even losing the job you have.
DON’T, when applying for a competition or completing a test, simply duplicate information you found online. As above, the ramifications of doing so can go beyond disqualification from the position to which you are applying. You also run the risk of being disciplined or even losing the job you have.
DO proofread all documents before submitting them. If possible, have someone else proofread them for you as well. Your eye often overlooks errors in your own writing and you see what you intended to write rather than what you actually wrote.
DON’T forget to prepare concrete, real-life examples of the skills and experiences listed under a competition’s essential qualifications, especially when going into an interview.
DO let a former or current supervisor know in advance that you will be listing them as a reference.
DO speak to your supervisor about your career objectives and goals at the beginning of the year when reviewing your Learning Plan.
DO ask for feedback if you are screened out of a competition. What you learn may help you succeed when the next opportunity arises.
If you have any questions about applying to competitions or if some part of your application is unclear to you, get in touch with a Labour Relations Advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACFO Labour Relations Advisor