In a crowded job market, it’s important to make sure that you stand out from other candidates. Use these tips for completing application forms to help you clearly set out to recruiters why you’re the best person for the job.
Even though you may have a strong CV, many employers will ask for job applications as well. This may be your first chance to make an impression on a potential employer. It can be the difference between being rejected outright or invited for interview. A high-quality application that shows you’ve thought about the role and can meet the requirements, should get the attention of the recruiter.
1. Information is key
- Before you start to complete your application, make sure that you’ve got all the information available to hand. Read it carefully.
- Information can come from a number of sources, including the job advert. If there are contact details for the recruiting manager or recruitment consultant, get in touch with them. Having the opportunity to talk to someone about the job and the company can give you much more insight into what they’re looking for. This could give you an advantage over other applicants because you can use this additional information when you fill in your application.
- If you’re not able to talk to someone, you can gather more information about the organisation by searching online. You could also use your networks if you know someone already working for the company, or they may have contacts who can help.
- You may also receive an application pack that usually includes the original advert, job description, person specification and some background information on the organisation. Read all this information carefully!
2. Understand the person spec
- To be successful, it’s essential that you understand the criteria in the Job Description and Person Specification. Go through these documents carefully so that you’re clear about the skills and experience that the employer is looking for.
- Make sure you show that you match the ‘essential’ criteria when completing the form. This is how your application will be assessed. If you don’t meet all of the essential criteria then you may not get invited to the interview stage.
- You’ll need to give evidence on how you meet each point in the person spec by using specific examples from your work or other experience.
3. Make every word count
- Don’t include information unless it relates to the skills and experience that are being asked for. Make sure that you’re regularly checking to see that the evidence you’re giving meets the criteria.
- Pull out headings from the criteria in the Person Spec and Job Description to keep your answers to the point. You can use these headings when you complete the Personal Statement section of the application form.
- Don’t give standard answers or copy and paste from previous applications. It’s likely that each employer will be looking for something slightly different. If you just recycle old answers, you’re unlikely to really give the recruiter the information they’re looking for.
4. Focus on your Personal Statement
- The Personal Statement is probably the most important section of the application form. It brings your information to life. It’s your chance to set yourself apart from the crowd of other applicants and sell your skills and experience.
- It gives you a real opportunity to show that you’re the person that the company is looking for and to get you to the next stage of the recruitment process.
- Applications will sometimes only be sifted against the evidence you provide in your Personal Statement, so it’s important to invest the time to get it right!
5. Check and double check
- If you can, write your answers in Word first so you can check spelling and grammar, then copy and paste into the application form.
- Make sure that the whole application hangs together. If you’ve mentioned a job in your Personal Statement, it needs to be included in your list of previous employment.
- Get someone to read through your application before you submit it. A second pair of eyes can spot mistakes and point out any information that isn’t relevant, or doesn’t make sense.
If you’ve found these tips for completing application forms useful and would like help with this, or with updating your CV, writing a LinkedIn profile or improving your interview techniques, please get in touch.