How to fill in application forms
Application forms can seem tricky but with the right approach you can make yours stand out
Even though employers have their own application forms, they all tend to ask for the same sorts of information like:
- your education
- your skills
- your experience
- why you’re interested in the job
- what you can offer them
- why they should employ you.
You can accompany your application form with a brief covering letter but don’t send in your CV as well – the application form will give the employer all the information they need to know about you.
Filling in application forms
The first thing you need to do is read through the job advertisement several times, very carefully, so you understand what the job is about and what the employer is looking for. Think about what sort of person the organisation wants to hire – are you a good match?
Then think about what you are going to tell them about yourself. They don’t want your life story, but they will be looking for evidence that you fit their requirements and that you have the enthusiasm to do the job well. As you read through the advert, note down thoughts you have on how you can prove you are the right candidate for the job.
It can be helpful to work through the advert and highlight or underline any skills they list as desirable or essential, e.g.:
- computer literate
- telephone skills
- dealing with people
as well as important qualities, e.g.:
- What evidence can you show for you being energetic and cheerful?
- What computer programmes do you regularly use? (e.g Internet, e-mail, Word)
- How can you demonstrate that you’re a reliable person?
- When have you dealt with members of the public?
What to avoid…
If the advert tells you to write in for an application form, then don’t give further details about yourself at this stage – these are for when you send in the application form. Instead, follow the pointers on writing general letters.
Once you have the application form in front of you, it can be tempting to list every single thing you have done because you’re rightly proud of your experience. However, it’s important to be selective on your application form, so your most relevant skills and qualities are highlighted. If you write reams about what you’ve done since you were ten you risk your letter and application form being put in the bin! You have to grab the employer’s attention as soon as possible.
… And what to include
However, don’t be too brief. A couple of sentences in a whole box asking you why you are perfect for the job won’t look very impressive and won’t give you enough space to talk about your abilities. When writing, try to use positive, proactive power words (verbs) to promote yourself, such as:
- I managed…
- I lead…
- I arranged…
- I organised…
- I won…
There is also a really useful website called LifeSkills which helps you get the skills and experiences you need to enter the world of work. Created with Barclays it covers the key money, people and work skills, careers support and experience you need to get ready for the world of work. Find out more on their website www.barclayslifeskills.com.