Some organisations will ask you to fill in an application form to apply for one of their jobs, rather than submit a CV and covering letter. From both the applicant’s and employer’s point of view, application forms can have certain advantages.
For example, all candidates will be submitting their information in exactly the same format, enabling the employer to make straightforward "like with like" comparisons, and recruiters won’t be distracted or swayed by differing CV formats.
By using specially designed application forms asking specific questions, employers know that they are only collecting information relevant to the post. Some application forms contain detachable pages where personal details or equal opportunities data is collected, which is removed by the HR department before being passed for shortlisting, ensuring objective and unbiased consideration.
All application forms will differ slightly, but here we guide you through some general tips for completing the application form successfully.
1. If you can only get hold of a hard copy of the application form, don’t just go straight ahead and fill it in. Take a few photocopies first, so that you can practice filling it in neatly and judge how much space is available. Take a copy of the completed application form too before you finally submit it.
2. Presentation is important. If filling in by hand, use black ink, as the form will usually be photocopied at some stage, and write clearly and neatly. Keep your master copy of the application form clean, and send it in an envelope big enough for you not to have to fold the form. Fill in all the appropriate sections and read the instructions carefully!
3. Do not under any circumstances simply attach your CV to the form and refer the employer to that for the information. As mentioned above, employers have good reasons for using application forms; simply referring them to the CV is lazy and shows that you are not prepared to be flexible and make some effort to work within the practices of the organisation. However it is usually acceptable to continue on additional sheets of paper if you run out of space.
4. Many application forms will ask specific questions and expect you to give examples to back up your answers. Think about these answers carefully; bear in mind the selection criteria stated in the job advert or job description, and ask yourself what skills, experience or aptitude is this question trying to test? Use a range of examples - using the same one over and over again will make your experience appear more limited. Use concrete examples and use words or phrases which mirror those in the job advert/description.
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