Top 10 tips to satisfactory address advertised job specifications

02nd Jan 2021

Writing a compelling response to meet the criteria within a job description and person specification can be a long process but an essential skill that every job seeker must master. To find a job you will need a strong and convincing response to the criteria will really set you apart from other candidates and ensure you get an interview. The labour market is now increasingly more competitive, so you will be up against many qualified job seekers. Ensuring your job search is targeted and focused will ensure the job opportunities you are applying for will maximise your chances of securing an interview.

How does it work?

One of the best ways to ensure you demonstrate that you are the right candidate for the job is to match your skills to the Person Specification. A Person Specification is the separate document that accompanies a job advertisement and is usually compiled by the recruitment managers for the role and may have some input from Human Resources. The Person Specification outlines the required skills and knowledge of the qualified candidate and will be used as shortlisting criteria. You will answer how you meet the Person Specification within the personal statement or supporting information section within a job application. Essentially the recruiter or shortlisting manager will use the Person Specification and compare the received applications against this. For those who have not met the criteria they will be unsuccessful, and therefore not make it to the next round of the recruitment process. Depending on how competitive the role is and how many applications they have received, some panels will remove applications from those who do not meet ALL of the essential criteria. Desirable requirements mean that they would be advantageous for a candidate to have and may be used to distinguish between candidates if there have been a particularly high number of applications. 

Role Profile and Person Specification

Within the job pack, there would typically be a number of supporting documents, including the job advert and job description. A role profile describes in general terms what the role is about, whereas a person specification outlines a summary of the role, the skills, knowledge, qualifications and competencies required to do the role. Crafting a strong response to your application can certainly get better with practice. Many roles will have a more detailed person specification but with many job listings now online, it would give you the chance to save what you do and overwrite what you have done. Read the following Top 10 tips to satisfactory address advertised job specifications.

1. Match Your Skills, Experience and Attributes within the Job Description

The Person Specification criteria is typically split into Essential and Desirable and can be divided into several different areas, such as Qualifications, Knowledge and Experience, Skills and Abilities, Experience and Competencies. In some cases, they may also include Personal Attributes. Please see the outlined Person Specification example below, which outlines all the Essential and Desirable Criteria. To ensure you are successful and write a strong personal statement you will need to meet as many of the essential criteria items as possible and some of the desirable criteria if you are able to do so. If you are unable to meet about 80% on the list then it would not be worth submitting your application. Some vacancies provide a contact name, so if you are unsure about your suitability for the role, it may be worth getting in touch with the contact to discuss your suitability with an informal conversation.

2.   Proving You Can Do the Role

So as you study the Person Specification and start to consider how you will construct your response, you will start to piece together your ability to do the role. Within your response, it is simply not enough to state that you meet the criteria and that you can do the job, but you will need to provide examples of when you have illustrated the relevant skills and experience. If we took the above example from the Person Specification and the first Skills Required for Excellent Presentation and Communication Skills, both verbal and written, you would need to provide a specific example. To meet the criteria, you could take the example and reword and reframe it to provide your answer. An example might include, I have demonstrated excellent presentation and communication skills in my work as a teacher that required me to present a range of complex topics to classes of up to 30 to a variety of abilities and learning styles. You might also decide to provide more detail and background around the course that you delivered, the teaching style you used and also the result of your actions.  

3.   Provide Examples How You Meet the Person Specification

It can be very easy to feel overwhelmed by the personal statement section within the application. The section where you outline and match your requirements will usually state the following:  Please set out your relevant experience in relation to the person specification of the post and why you are applying for the job. Relevant career experience can include details of paid or unpaid work, committee and club experience/activities and any relevant interests. Highlighting your personal attributes, aptitudes, experience, achievements or research not mentioned elsewhere. When faced with what seems like a daunting prospect of outlining your requirements against the role, the first place to start would be taking the requirements and bullet pointing some times when you have demonstrated the skill or experience. As a starting point and using the above Person Specification example examples have been provided on how you can evidence what they are looking for.


Excellent IT Skills





Self-taught/completed online courses in Microsoft to further advance knowledge and support understanding and knowledge of computers

Compiled a range of in-house spreadsheets to collate customer feedback and prepare reports to improve performance. Managed the online website and customer CRM systems further supporting the preparation of management information.

Completed degree studies that required the collation of results for dissertation, group project work in PowerPoint and submitted a number of essays in Word format.

Ability to prioritise and work under pressure


 As a full-time student managed the requirements of a busy course achieving an overall 2.1 grade, alongside the demands of a part-time job and extra-curricular activities as a course representative.

 Performed exceptionally well in a busy call-centre environment which required the ability to respond promptly to 150 inbound calls

As a delivery driver, successfully managed in the region of 150 delivery drops to customers across the country. Effectively managed an individual workload and prioritised deliveries in line with customer deadlines, order times and company service standards.

Good Numeracy Skills


Prepared and managed budgets, including all expenditure for the department, effectively monitored performance and maintained detailed records of all financial performance.

 Having run my own online retail business, managed all income and expenditure for reporting and tax purposes.

As company secretary for the school committee, managed the internal

school bursary for all trips and events. Astutely identified more cost-effective suppliers and outsourced the external transport company.


    4.   Provide examples of the result

In many cases, it wouldn’t be enough to simply state you have the skills and provide an example, but you need to back up the skill with results and examples in which you have applied your skills in real-life situations. A helpful way to apply this is the using the STAR acronym which provides a detailed background and example when you apply skills and experience into practice. This can be better explained as the following:

Situation: Outline the scene and give the necessary details of your example. You may also want to describe your role and position in the company.

Task: Talk about your role within the situation. Consider the key attributes you are trying to showcase and how this relates to the application form.

Activity: Explain what exactly you did and the steps that you took to address it or resolve the problem. What did you do and how did you approach the problem?

Result: The most important part of this question is the outcome of your actions. Consider what the outcome of your actions was?

If we took the above Person Specification example for Strong Organisational Skills and using the STAR Acronym you could answer the question in the following. During my time as an Events Coordinator, I was required to manage in the region of 100 conferences each month. This required me to liaise directly with suppliers and customers. To ensure each event was a success, I maintained a centralised database of the progress of the event along with all communications and event information. This therefore, enabled me to keep up to date with the progress of the event and monitor any changes and enabled me to keep on top of any changes to event requirements. Preparing answers to the STAR method is also good practice in preparation for interview as you can pretty much guarantee that they will ask you questions around the person specification.

5.Provide Supporting Information

It is important to ensure a consistent format and to ensure you answer fully all the questions and key selection criteria, by working your way through in the order of the requirements. To ensure a consistent format and that you fully answer all the questions, take each one of the person specifications in order and work your way down. This will therefore make it much easier for the recruiter to tick off the requirements for your application.  This section is the opportunity to sell yourself and therefore make sure you use this section to your advantage to sell what you can do. You will usually include information within this section that cannot be discussed anywhere else. You can include amongst other things in your application, your duties and responsibilities, your skills, knowledge and or any other experience that is relevant to the post. Also discuss any employment gaps and the reasons why you want to work for that particular company. Don’t be afraid to show that you have done your research.  Ensure you provide a full range of answers across the wide breadth of your experience and education and try not to select just one area of your experience. Feel free to also include your voluntary work, extracurricular activities, research, publications and or presentation experience if it seems necessary. You may want to conclude your summary with a final conclusion of your skills and experience and highlighting your suitability for the role.

6.   How to layout out the answers

Don’t be afraid to be creative with your answers; you could use bullet points or underline bold words to attract the reader to the relevant part of your application. You may also decide to structure your personal statement with the headings closely aligned with the person specification. You may find that as you are answering one set of criteria that you will be covering another, so there may be some overlap. If this happens try not to repeat yourself. Under the headings you could then bullet point your evidence demonstrating how you meet the competency criteria. Also don’t be afraid of the length of your application, in order to meet all of the Person Specification criteria it would not be uncommon for your response to be at least 1 page long if not 2 if you have fully answered all of the criteria.

7.  Read the Instructions

A key element of completing the personal statement is that you carefully read the requirements. In some occasions there will be no provision to upload a CV of covering letter and some will clearly state that they do not want you to upload a CV. Try to avoid copying and pasting your CV in the space allocated and also avoid writing see my CV or cover letter attached in the supporting statement. Also, pay close attention to the character or word limit. Many organisations now give very helpful guidance on how to complete your application form and will highlight what they are looking for. Sometimes the personal specification will be within a text box, so it’s worth checking if it’s movable and if you can expand it to include more text. Don’t add extra sheets unless you are invited to. Ensure that you complete all sections of the form, writing N/A (not applicable) in a box if not appropriate to show that you have noticed the page and not just missed it out. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to complete the application, some forms will take a considerable amount of time, and preparing your answers and gathering your evidence can take longer than you think. Pay close attention to the closing date-this is final. Recruiters will not be able to make acceptations for late submissions, so allow plenty of time. Some organisations, have been noted to close their pooling of applications if they receive too many.

8. What not to include

If you have only had one job, and therefore can’t refer to other past jobs, then use other examples from voluntary or education. Whatever happens, don’t highlight inexperience and NEVER say that you can’t do something or aren’t very good at it and of course, whatever you do, don’t be tempted to fabricate anything as you will be caught out. Also, don’t include any other information that does not cover your suitability for the role that you are going for. Omit information such as your salary expectations, reasons for leaving your previous employer or any personal information. Each application should be individual to the organisation, even if you are applying for similar jobs within the same company. As tempting as it may seem, avoid cutting and pasting answers between forms unless you then adapt the answer as needed.

9. Complete All Sections

It is also worth noting that the Personal Statement section is only one part of the full application form, so it’s important that you pay attention and fully read and complete all sections of the application. Some sections of the application form will be more straightforward and factual to answer, including the personal details and education section, which will simply require you to complete these sections.  Whereas, other sections will require more detailed information and examples, such as the reference details and employment section which will require detail on responsibilities. When completing the application try not to complete the application form in one sitting as it can easily lead to you to become tired and result in mistakes. It’s better to face the application with a fresh pair of eyes and one that has your full attention.

10. Finishing Touches  

Once you have drafted your statement, spend some time editing it and proofreading it. Ensure that you read through each paragraph and ask yourself whether the point that you are trying to make it clear, and if you could be more concise, and if you have covered all the requirements of the person specification. Always check carefully for spelling and grammar mistakes and where possible you may want to get someone else to look over the draft for you.

Find more about how to sell yourselfat the interview on our career advice