To get started, think of a "wow" project with which you have been involved. You want to catch the selection committee's attention in the first paragraph, so start with your most impressive work and go from there. Can you think of a project that would "wow" a selection committee?
Now that you have a project in mind, follow these steps to success:
Step 1: Research
It is critical that you understand the qualifications needed for the job for which you are applying. Take time to read the job announcement thoroughly. Talk to people who are currently in the job to find out what skills and knowledge they use on a daily basis and learn their priorities. Read the Position Description, which can be found on the Office of Personnel website.
Step 2: Reflect
Think of all the work experience you have had in your life. SSA experience is the priority, but do not feel limited by that. Think of other activities in which you have participated. Experience as a volunteer, a college student, or at a part-time job can also be considered. You could have completed your "wow" project during one of these activities.
Step 3: Analyze
After listing all of your work experiences that will impress the selection committee, analyze how each fits a qualification needed for the position. Consider these questions:
- What types of skills do I use in my current job? How do I apply them to my work in order to accomplish goals?
- What kind of supervision do I receive? Is my work mostly independent? How am I reviewed? How do I receive assignments?
- What guidelines do I follow to accomplish my work? Are they difficult to interpret? Are they written or oral?
- How does my work affect the work of others? Do I interact with others on a daily basis? Do I provide information and assistance to others?
Step 4: Write
Now that you have gathered information, it is time to start writing. Consider this your personal career story. Remember these tips:
- Start with a catchy introduction, to "wow" the reader;
- Use brief sentences;
- Longer is not better -- be direct and to-the-point; and
- Do not use abbreviations or acronyms -- assume the reader will not understand your use of acronyms. Spell everything out.
Step 5: Believe
If you truly believe that you are the right person for the job, it will be clear in your writing. Think about your experience, focus on the positive, and translate your skills to the reader. Take the time to perfect your writing and give yourself ample time before the cut-off date. Grammatical errors will prove that you are the wrong person for the job. Ask several people to edit your writing.