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Application forms fact sheet

Application forms and letters made easy
The application process is a convenient way for employers to compare and contrast difference candidates. This means we all have to learn how to present ourselves well on paper. Even if very little writing comes into the job you want, you will have to get over the hurdle of the application form in order to get an interview. Most people dread having to project themselves and find it doubly hard to do so in written form. Every application needs to be positive, well-written and clear about what you have to offer.

The whole purpose of completing an application form is to impress an employer enough to win yourself a place at interview. The form needs to be completed after thinking about the position and should try to present your skills and experience in the light of what is required for the job.

How to fill in application forms
Before you start, re-read all the information about the job that you have been sent. Think through what you are offering the employer and match this to the kind of person that they seem to be looking for.

Application forms are divided into different sections, each of which is concerned with a different subject. These normally include: personal details (name, address etc); qualifications; work experience; interests and details of your referees.

There will typically be a question about why you want the job, or room for you to make a statement about how you feel you fit the vacancy. This is the key part of the form as it invites you to sell yourself as the best applicant for the job. You need to work your way through any job description and person specification sent as part of the application pack to show how you satisfy each of the skills and aptitudes required. You need examples to back up any claims you make.

There may be additional paperwork to complete such as an equal opportunities monitoring form.

Dos and Don'ts

Dos

  • Do start each application afresh with energy and enthusiasm.
  • Do complete the form in draft before writing the final version.
  • Do allow yourself plenty of time to complete and check the form.
  • Do answer the questions on the form fully to do justice to your skills and abilities.
  • Do take your time over the form – errors of spelling or grammar are never impressive.
  • Do show enthusiasm, being half-hearted will not help to sell you to the employer.

Don’ts

  • Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket – keep applying for different jobs that interest you.
  • Don’t lose track of your applications – be organised about your paperwork.
  • Don’t waffle or use pretentious language, your jargon may not be understood.
  • Don’t be vague, use concrete examples of your achievements and create pictures for the reader.
  • Don’t take short cuts to filling in the form, you need to give it time and energy for an application to be successful.
  • Don’t undersell yourself – the employer can only compare you to other applicants by what you write on the form.

Points to remember

  1. If there is a person specification, make sure that you show exactly how you satisfy each point on it.
  2. Employers need to know all about you from your application form if they are to invite you for interview – they will only know what you tell them.
  3. Selling yourself depends upon strong statements, enthusiastic language and clarity about what you have to offer.
  4. Think about the job from the employers' point of view and consider what information will have the most impact on them.
  5. Approach each application form sincerely and with a positive attitude. If it is worth completing, it is worth completing properly.

How You Can Get That Job!
Adapted from "Preparing the perfect Job application" by Rebecca Corfield, 5th edition, published in 2009
ISBN No. 978-0-7494-5653-5

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