The job application form is your chance to showcase your potential and prove to employers that you have the skills and experience they are looking for. There is no right or wrong answers but there are a number of ways to increase your chance of success.
This is the most important part of an application. Start by researching yourself and preparing solid examples based on your past experience. Then go beyond the company website to find out more about the organisation. Read company reports or do a media search to ensure you are aware of the issues the company faces.
Recruiters will expect you to back up your skills with evidence of times you have put them into practice. Many recruiters use past experience as an indicator of future performance, so taking time to work through solid examples will help you along the way.
Take Your Time
Reading through the instructions before you get started will help avoid costly mistakes further down the line. Taking time to read through all the questions at the beginning will also allow you to allocate your examples to the most appropriate questions and make the best use of your experience.
If you are asked to use team-based examples, clearly articulate the role you played within the team. Try to avoid the tendency to refer to the group situation in terms of ‘we’. Instead clearly describe your actions, decisions and overall contribution to the success of the team.
If employers specify a word count, make sure that you stick to it. Use clear language and keep the point to ensure that your skills and experience don’t get lost amongst unnecessary details.
The same rules apply for online applications as those for paper-based applications, however there are a few more tips to bear in mind.
Prepare and Save
Avoid the temptation to rush straight in. Take time to prepare your answers and check whether you will be able to save the form and return to it later or whether you will need to complete the whole form in one sitting. If this is the case, it may be worth printing the for empty for and drafting your application before entering it onto the online form.
Don’t Cut and Paste
Avoid re-using answers from previous applications. Though is may save time, tailor-made applications are much more likely to be successful in the long run.
Ensure you leave plenty of time to complete the form to avoid last minute hiccups like losing saved work or internet connection problems.
Accurate spelling and grammar are essential both on and offline. Planning your answers in Microsoft Word and spell checking before pasting them into the online form can help to avoid errors. Spell check will not catch all mistakes so it is always wise to take a second look before submitting the form.
What Key Things are Recruiters Looking for on Application Forms?
Your answers should be specific and concise throughout your form. Make sure you look carefully at the job description and identify the qualities the employer is looking for. Use concrete examples to illustrate where you have used the skills and attributes the job requires.
A good application form will promote the skills, knowledge and experience you can bring to the position. Make sure you prioritise relevant information and emphasise your transferable skills which can include teamwork, communication and time management. Ensure you use examples to highlight your skills, don’t just list them.
How can Extra-Curricular Activities and Hobbies be Presented Effectively?
Giving details about your extra-curricular activities and hobbies gives the employer an insight into you personally. However, it is a good idea to relate your hobbies to the position you are applying for in some way. For example, you could mention any positions you held within societies, clubs or sports teams that demonstrate your responsibility and commitment.
How can you make best use of the Further Information Section?
While these sections aren’t compulsory to complete, it gives you the opportunity to add any other information you think is relevant. Make sure you mention any work experience you have had and why you want to work for the company. It’s also a good idea to give details of any voluntary work you have done to demonstrate motivation and commitment.
How can a Candidate Really Stand Out on an Application Form?
The candidates who stand out the most are those that have done their research about the company. The more background research you do, the better prepared you will be to tailor each application form to the position you are applying for. Look carefully at the job description and understand why the job appeals to you, this will make your application easier to complete and more convincing.
Are there any Fatal Errors which can be Avoided when Completing Application Forms?
There are a few things that will automatically rule a candidate out of being selected for a position. These include:
• Make sure you double-check your form for any spelling or grammatical errors.
• Keep your answers concise and to the point – employers will lose patience if they are too long with unnecessary detail. Be aware of putting down too much information and waffling in free-text questions as this could come across as being vague.
• A common mistake is failing to include all the information asked for. Make sure you answer all parts of the question.
• Even if you are filling out lots of forms, don’t just copy and paste responses from one form to another, employers will be able to tell!