Tactical and Technical
Writing your PAC Statement – A Warrant Officer’s PerspectiveBy Jai Wright May 15, 2019
“Your PAC Statement is the most intently read item of your dossier. It is your personal voice” – CMA
Professional advancement in the way of promotion and selection for complex or high profile appointments is determined by many facets of a candidate. For Warrant Officers in the Australian Army, an advisory committee reflects on the candidate’s dossier to holistically analyse the information presented to them and determine the best organisational fit for a certain appointment. During this process the only opportunity for the candidate to personally converse with the committee is through a personnel advisory committee (PAC) Statement. Your PAC Statement is intently read by the committee and provides considerable weight in determining your future.
This article provides my perspective on the lessons I have learnt, and the areas I am cognisant of, when drafting PAC Statements. It outlines considerations about selecting the appropriate tone and displaying individuality. It discusses the importance of portraying your personality so it stands out. This article also highlights general guidance that should be considered. Furthermore this article provides future candidates with ideas to assist them in drafting a PAC Statement for submission to an advisory committee.
Humbly Sell Yourself and be Self Aware
Drafting a PAC Statement requires a balanced and considered approach. You should highlight your strengths without conveying an arrogance in your tone. A lack of humility can demonstrate immaturity and an inability to exercise introspection. Self-reflection is an important psychological process that allows development and if you convey an arrogance through entitlement this may not be well received by a committee. You should reflect on how a certain position or experience has assisted you in your development and what values encompass your leadership. Draw on your experiences and provide a correlation as to how this experience has made you better suited for employment in certain areas, and highlight the values that you would bring to the job. Furthermore, when identifying future positions that you aspire to, consider your developmental needs for long term advancement and establish a link between your desired short term goals and how this will benefit the Army for future organisational needs. When identifying a specific position you desire, consider how to present this appointment as an opportunity for you and the Army which is mutually beneficial. However, again be mindful not to convey an entitled or privileged tone.
Tip 1 – Be humble in your approach. Focus on how you have developed over recent appointments, and how you can use your experiences to benefit the organisation, not how the Army can benefit you.
Tip 2 – Be self-aware. Do not overinflate or exaggerate your skills or experience. For instance, if you claim to be a distinguished professional with significant operational experience (a commendation and two deployments) and you are compared against others with OAM, DSM, CSC and ten deployments – you may not come across as self-aware.
Don’t Use Templates
The Career Management Agency does not provide you with a template for a PAC Statement. This is to promote innovation, creativity and personalisation. You have the freedom and flexibility to draft the document as you desire. Your PAC Statement is not a professional biography that talks about your history. Rather a PAC Statement is a one page document that should be aimed at linking your previous experiences and qualifications to your potential for promotion and higher responsibility in the future. A quick search on SharePoint will find several unit templates for PAC Statements; unsurprisingly they are all very similar. The units, dates and positions are the only major change. Remember the advisory committee is reviewing large pools of candidates. Therefore, it is unlikely that a shallow PAC Statement would provide any weight in assisting you to gain the appointment you desire.
The committee is voting on who is the best organisational fit for an appointment. A well written, pragmatic and tactful statement will be well received by an advisory committee. You should showcase your diversity and demonstrate your analytical thought process by critically reflecting on your experiences and potential. Moreover, a PAC Statement should be tailored for the appointment you are being considered for. This means a PAC Statement being considered by a Regimental Sergeant Major Advisory Committee should be considerably different than a PAC Statement being considered by a Trade WO1 Advisory Committee.
Tip 3 – Don’t use a template. Writing a PAC statement may take many draft versions to find the appropriate tone, capture the relevant experience, demonstrate potential and link this to you being the right organisational fit. Writing a personal and unique statement will ensure the committee is not confronted with another mundane statement based on a template that provides them no insight into your character. Take the time to develop a PAC Statement that is personalised, professional and employs the right tone. Attempt to be unique from the first sentence and open with something different to “I enlisted into the Australian Army in….as a ….”. This will assist you to stand-out from your cohort and bring you to the forefront of the committee’s minds.
Tip 4 – Tailor your statement for the appointment you desire. Understand the type of positions you are competing for and tailor your response with the relevant evidence to support your selection for the specific appointment – don’t use a template.
No one enjoys having a professional photo taken, but the photo can be as important as the wording of the PAC Statement itself. Professionalism is key. This is usually the only time the advisory committee will see what you actually look like. The photo should reinforce the professional image that you conveyed in the statement. You should take the time to have a photo taken by a trained photographer and you should be dressed in Service Dress, or at a minimum polyester ceremonial. The photo should capture from the waist up, embellishments up-to-date and uniform well pressed.
Tip 5 – Take a professional photo. As a leader you need to portray professionalism. If you are ponderous, have poor grooming, or your photo is taken on a low resolution camera at an inappropriate location, it has the potential to undermine your entire PAC statement.
Know your Audience and Ruthlessly Proofread your PAC Statement
Your PAC statement should be tailored for the advisory committee. To achieve this, I recommend that you speak with your career advisor and chain of command to identify who the voting members may be that you are writing the submission for. For example, are the voting members MAJ, WO1, Tier C RSM, LTCOL or COL? Having a basic knowledge of the make-up of the advisory committee will help you to understand the audience and you should then tailor your language, tone, and pitch appropriately.
Tip 6 – Know you audience. Having a basic knowledge of who the voting members are will help you to understand the audience for you to tailor the language, tone, and pitch appropriately.
You can read a document many times and still overlook the simplest of errors. With this in mind, it is important to have your statement proofread by others. Regimental Sergeant Majors will be able to provide you with excellent advice. Additionally your Officer Commanding or Commanding Officer are excellent options as they will bring a different perspective to the feedback provided. Most career managers are also willing to provide you with advice and feedback on your PAC Statement. It is important that your statement remains your product after review and it conveys your individuality.
Tip 7 – Ruthlessly proofread your PAC Statement. This may be the most important document you write in relation to your future career aspirations, so take the time to get it right.
The PAC Statement is an important aspect considered by an advisory committee and could be the difference between you gaining the appointment you aspire to or being overlooked. Use the freedom afforded to you when drafting a statement to showcase your values, performance, qualifications, experience and potential. You should make every attempt to appropriately stand-out whilst remaining humble in your delivery. A well written, pragmatic and tactful statement will be appropriately received by an advisory committee.
'The views expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by SCMA. For guidance on PAC statements please refer to your career advisor'
I would like to express my thanks to the following members for their advice, feedback and consultation:
- Senior Career Advisor, Directorate of Officer Career Management, LTCOL Gerard Kearns
- Regimental Sergeant Major, 16th Aviation Brigade, WO1 Darren Murch
- Regimental Sergeant Major, 8th Signal Regiment, WO1 Jason Rubie
- ECN 165 Standards Warrant Officer, WO1 Dustin Hodgson