It is a near certainty that you will asked to fill out an application for a job you are interested in. Like your CV and covering letter (which an application form might replace, or you might be asked to submit all three), the answers you provide in an application form should reflect the best version of you, clearly articulating your skills and experience, and what you would bring to the role.
Some key things to consider when completing an application form:
- Be informative but concise in your answers – try to keep your answers to the key details; waffling will make your application look rushed, or, worse, that you have nothing relevant to add.
- Try to use all the space provided for your answers – too much blank space can make an application look incomplete or rushed.
- If you have the opposite problem – not enough space to say all that you need to – use a covering letter if possible to highlight the most important points and to say more about them.
- Research the employer – find out what qualities that the employer is looking for, and answer the questions in ways that will show that you have these qualities.
- Use your previous experience – student often assume that their vacation work as a waiter, shop assistant or fruit-picker can be of no possible interest to a graduate employer. This is not so – employers can learn a great deal about your motivation and skills from jobs such as these – so do include them if the skills you gained are relevant.
An application form, like your CV, is your first impression with an employer. They want to see that you have what they want, and can articulate your skills and experience clearly. The most important piece of advice for applications forms is quite simple – don’t leave it to the last minute! It is very easy to tell a rushed application from one which has been given due time and consideration. Give yourself time to research your prospective employer, think critically about the questions they are asking you, and present yourself and your skills in a way which most clearly shows why you are the right person for the job.
- CES website – Application Forms
- Examples of typical sections you’ll encounter in job applications
- The CES’ Making Applications booklet
- A list of tough application questions, taken from real-world examples from different sectors
- Prospects.ac.uk – applying for jobs
- The Prospects website is filled with useful advice on application forms, including: