You’ve found a job you want to go for, but the thought of filling out an application form fills you with dread. Where do you start? The trick is to break the process into bitesize tasks to make it much more manageable.

What is a job application?

The job or employment application is the official form that employers ask all applicants for a position to fill out. … The job application is a legally defensible listing of your job applicant’s employment history, educational background, degrees, qualifications, references, and more.

Some companies require you to fill in an application form (or even several) to apply for a job. They do this is to find out whether you’re legally permitted to do the job, to get your contact details and to find out if you’re right for their company.

After that, as the applicant, it gives you the opportunity to outline your education history, any skills you have that are relevant to the job and your experience. This includes voluntary work, previous jobs and your current employment.

Application forms often require you to write a few hundred words, giving the employer the chance to see your literacy and written communication skills. As such applications may take more time than just firing off a CV. But, by filling one out you show the employer that you’re serious about wanting the job.

When do you need to fill it in?

Many job applications are long, so don’t leave it too close to the deadline before getting started. Give yourself time so you don’t have to rush.

What do they involve?

Most application forms include the following sections:

1. Personal details

This is the most straightforward part. Make sure you include all the relevant information in the correct sections – that includes your name, email address and phone number.

2. Education

You will need to fill in all your qualifications from secondary school (often including grades) up to degree level and beyond, if relevant. However, if you’re a more seasoned professional and are applying for senior positions, you can summarise your school achievements in a short sentence.

It’s important that you have the minimum educational requirements outlined for the job – many companies now use applicant tracking systems(ATSs), so if you don’t meet the asking grades, your application may be instantly rejected.

Interestingly, ATSs are often the reason for filling out an application form in addition to sending in your CV. The ATSs scan your application to ensure you’re a relevant fit for the role, and if you’re successful, a human recruiter will read your CV.

3. Employment history

It’s important to include your complete employment history, starting with your most recent job and working backwards – not forgetting any internships, voluntary or unpaid jobs and even holiday jobs.

If you have taken a gap year, make sure you include the details, outlining what you did and where you went, what jobs or volunteer work you undertook during that time and any skills you acquired along the way.

4. Activities and interests

When it comes to your personal interests and hobbies, include only those that may be relevant to the job you’re applying for – but remember to think outside the box. If you’re a member of a local amateur dramatics society, for example, and are applying for a job that requires any level of public speaking, ensure you demonstrate how one can benefit the other.

5. References

Ideally, you should have two references. One should be from your current employer, the other can be from a different employer, or a character reference from a current colleague.

If that’s not applicable – or possible – make sure you include someone who has worked with you in a permanent position, or someone who worked with you during a volunteering stint or internship.

6. Personal statement

Some application forms require you to write a personal, or supporting, statement. This is where you need to outline your reasons for applying for the job and how you meet the required criteria. Take time to put this together – it will allow you to demonstrate your suitability for the job.

Include what made you apply for the job, how your experience and skills make you the ideal candidate for this role and how your personality would make you an asset to the company. You should also provide examples from your current or previous employment to support your case.

Finally, don’t forget to include why this job would be a good move for your career and your long-term goals – but keep this part brief. The main aim of your personal statement it to showcase your suitability for the role and show how you can bring value to the employer.

7. Competency questions

These questions outline common work-based situations and ask how you would resolve them, using examples from your experience. It may be as straightforward as demonstrating when you worked as part of a team and what part you played in it. However, competency-based questions can occasionally be a bit trickier – they may involve describing a situation in which you implemented change, for example, and ask you to link it back to a time when you used certain key skills.

Top tips for completing an application form

When completing your application form, there are a few key actions you need to take:

  • Research the company and the job
  • Make sure all your employment dates are correct
  • Proofread thoroughly for spelling and grammar errors
  • Re-read it to ensure you are clear at all times
  • Always be truthful

Common job application mistakes

It can be easy to make mistakes, especially if you’re rushing through an application. Take your time and avoid making any of these blunders:

  • Spelling and grammar errors
  • Addressing the application to the wrong person
  • Not following instructions on the form
  • Not tailoring the application form to fit the job you are applying for
  • Leaving gaps in your employment history
  • Missing the deadline

Remember to keep these tips in mind when making your job application the best it can be.


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