Don't forget those KSA answers just yet

By Derrick T. Dortch
Thursday, November 11, 2010; 6:52 AM

Look for federal careers expert Derrick T. Dortch's column on government jobs on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month.

I was waiting for Nov. 1 like it was Christmas.

I was hoping for the promised gift of job announcements written in plain language and applications that no longer required answers to an avalanche of essay questions simply to get a candidate considered.

But when I opened my laptop and looked onUSAJOBS, it was clear that there would be no Christmas in November - and no government-wide implementation of hiring reforms.

For all the hype about President Obama's executive order on reform, the changes are far from being fully realized. His Nov. 1 deadline has come and gone, and though some agencies have begun the reform process, too many have not.

So what does that mean for the job hunter?

It's simple: Don't get rid of your KSA (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) and other essay question responses just yet. Since it seems we are going to have to continue to deal with those initial KSAs a while longer (the reforms do allow for KSAs further into the application process), here are some tips on writing successful responses that can help get you through that first door.

The key to good KSAs is not only being concise in your answers, but finding a way to tell the stories that prove you have the knowledge and skills to get a job done. I have seen too many KSA responses in which applicants list their duties as it relates to the question but they do not tell their own, unique story.

You have to use one of several methods when writing KSA responses. They are:

SAR: Situation, Action, Results

STAR: Situation, Task, Action, Results

CCAR: Context, Challenge, Action, Results

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