Many employers ask applicants to complete an application form, rather than submit a CV and covering letter. Increasingly these are online forms, which are linked to the employer’s website. Paper, Braille or audio applications may be available. Find out more about job application forms here.
Our Top Tips:
- Read the job advertisement and application form guidelines very carefully.
- Research the organisation.
- Use Word to draft your answers then copy the information over to the online form.
- Give yourself enough time to complete and submit the application.
- Save a copy.
Avoid informal language, jargon and clichés! Write concise descriptive sentences and use active verbs when you describe your achievements or experience. Verbs such as organised, developed, achieved, planned, supervised, managed, initiated, designed, persuaded will highlight your skills.
Mirror the keywords stated in the job description. Large companies who receive hundreds of applications often use scanning software to search for keywords and will only shortlist the applications that contain these words.
Avoid writing lists of words (e.g. a list of your skills or interests) as this will not tell the employer anything useful about you.
Aim to fill all the space provided on the form. Too much blank space can make an application form look incomplete, and is a wasted opportunity for you to make a positive impression. If a section does not apply to your situation, write ‘not applicable’ so it’s clear that you haven’t inadvertently missed the question.
The ‘further information’ section:
Many application forms have a blank section, which asks the applicant the opportunity to explain why they believe they have the skills and qualities to do the job. Some forms state that you can extend your answer onto a separate page if necessary; on other forms, there may be a strict word count. This is the most important section on the form, and what you write may well be the deciding factor as to whether or not you are shortlisted for interview.
How to demonstrate that you have the skills and experience they are looking for
Clearly show how you meet the essential and desirable criteria listed in the job description and person specification. You will only be shortlisted for an interview if you can prove you meet all of the essential criteria!
Explain why you are suitable for the advertised post. This means showing that you have researched everything about the employer and the post and you can show how your strengths, values, interests will be a perfect fit.
Use the STAR framework (situation, task, action and result) when you describe your examples. You can download our STAR technique Handout or read this blog post. There are variations on the STAR model you can use too. For example, PAR (Problem, Action, Result) and CAR (Challenge, Action, Result). Note that each of these involves describing what you did (your actions) and the consequence (the result).