An application form is often the first way in which you make contact with an employer so it is important to get it right! Every form you complete must be accurate, well presented and targeted to the particular vacancy.
Many employers, especially large organisations, ask for an application form rather than a CV when they advertise vacancies. Most application forms combine fairly rigidly structured boxes where you fill in your personal information (sometimes called biodata) and factual details of your employment/ education, with more flexible spaces with much more open questions where you can be more selective about the skills and experiences you include.
- Use your up-to-date CV to remind you of the facts you want to focus on.
- Always follow instructions and read questions carefully.
- Check spelling, grammar and punctuation thoroughly; mistakes indicate a careless attitude, poor communication skills and lack of commitment – not likely to impress an employer!
- Use positive and assertive language.
- Many applications are online; this does not mean they should be completed less formally.
- Photocopy printed forms and complete in rough first.
- For open questions asking you to give evidence of competences draw examples from education, employment and other experiences and ensure that your answers highlight the skills and qualities you used in the situation described. Don't just tell a story!
- You normally have chance to write a personal statement of why you want the job (this job, not just any job!) and why you are suitable. Show that you have researched the job and the company, ensure you cover the skills asked for in the job description and demonstrate that you have a clear career plan.
- Always keep a copy of your form.
To find out more
Download our guide to completing application forms for more detailed information, see a Careers Adviser who will give you feedback or attend one of our workshops. Download application forms for companies in the sector that interests you and use these to practise.