Application forms are used so recruiters can ask the same questions of each applicant. Before you start your application form, follow our checklist for preparation:
- the job description
- person specification (a detailed description of what is required from a candidate)
- instructions from the recruiter on how to complete the form
- a copy of your CV
- previous application forms if you have them.
You should read the description and specification thoroughly before starting your form. You should also check the form over to see which sections require more time or if you may need advice. This isn’t always possible with online forms, so be prepared.
You should provide evidence for the skills you have, it’s important to reflect on your experiences and promote what you can contribute as a result.
You may be asked to write a personal statement to highlight why you want the job and why you are suitable for the role. Instructions on completing the form normally state what they expect to see from you in this section.
- Write your personal statement in a word document so you can confidently spell check and proofread.
- Open your personal statement with why you are interested in the role.
- Respond to the job specification- it’s important to provide evidence as to how you meet the criteria.
- Write your responses using the STAR method.
The STAR method is a good way of structuring your responses to job criteria and works well for competency based interview questions.
S Situation: Where were you?
T Task – What was required?
A Action – What did you do?
R Result – What did you learn/achieve in this example
Once you have completed the form, save a copy as it will come in handy should you be invited to interview. Check you have avoided the common mistakes before submitting:
- not followed instructions
- missed out a section
- misread a question
- not checked the application for errors
- not provided honest answers
- exceeded the word count.
The purpose of a CV is to sell yourself to a potential employer and it is usually the first part of the recruitment process.
The CV is a working document and as you continue to develop, so should your CV.
Remember to edit your CV to each job you apply for, in order to make sure the information you give is relevant to that particular job.
Before you start submitting your CV to employers check the following:
- Is the CV targeted to the job role/Sector?
- Is the most relevant information the first thing listed?
- Do you have a professional email address?
- How easy is it to scan-read the CV?
- Is the formatting consistent and clear?
- Have you checked for errors?
- Have you used effective headings?
- Is your education and experience in reverse chronological order?
- Is your style of CV industry appropriate?
- If required, have you provided links to examples of work or your LinkedIn profile?
For graduate job roles, use these extra tips:
- include your dissertation topic
- promote key course modules
- promote relevant work experience
- provide specific technical/research/design skills
- highlight your business awareness
- promote live briefs or projects you've been involved with
- highlight your participation in sports clubs, societies or enterprise week
What is it?
The covering letter is your chance to demonstrate to an employer your interest in the job role and your interest in the company. Many job adverts will ask for a CV and a covering letter.
However, if you are handing out your CV to local shops, bars and restaurants then there is no need for a covering letter.
Why do I need it?
The information on your CV is about you; your skills, education and what you have done. The covering letter is a chance for you to demonstrate your understanding of the job role and any research you may have done on the company. In the recruitment process it is just as important as your CV.
When to use it
- when a job advert asks you to apply with a CV and a covering letter;
- when you are applying speculatively to a company to work;
- if you are able to attach additional documents to an online application form and you want to demonstrate your interest in working for a particular company.
Tips and Tricks
Your letter should be appropriately structured, it is important you pay attention to this as it shows attention to detail.
- Paragraph 1 should include where you saw the job advertised. If you are applying speculatively explain why you are writing to them.
- Paragraph 2 you need to explain why you are interested in the role, what is it about that job that motivates you? Why will you enjoy it?
- Paragraph 3 explain why you are interested in the employer, what is it about them that interests you?
- Paragraph 4 explain what you can contribute to the role and the company, this should be a summary of your most relevant skills that apply to the job.
- Paragraph 5 a closing paragraph.