Why do application forms still exist?
You’ve given the employer a 2-3 page window into your working soul through your CV. It has your interests, your goals, your qualifications and a beautifully well-written covering letter. But they still want an application form. Why, you ask?
Employers know that when recruiting for a vacancy, the best way to limit the amount of applicants for a position is to get them to fill out an application form. It takes no effort to letter bomb your CV to employers, however the actual process of filling out an application form can be lengthy and, in all honesty, a bit tedious. Employers know this, and thus the application form is very much a staple of the recruitment process.
Excellent, I hear you cry- less competition for the job you want. But hang on, if you don’t master the art of the application form properly, you might just fall short of the employer’s expectations.
Unlike your CV, an application form puts all the applicants on the same level playing field. You have to provide the exact same information, answer the exact same questions, and it is this that inevitably makes it easier for the employer to compare the applicants fairly and find the ones that excel.
An application form also gives the employer the opportunity to request specific information that they want to know, that might not appear on your CV. This allows them to have all the facts about their applicants to enable them to make an informed decision.
5 Top Tips when completing your application form
Make a spare copy- It might not be the most environmentally friendly way to find a job, but I don’t know many people that can write flawless job application answers in one shot. So be prepared to draft, draft and draft again.
Give detail- This is your opportunity to really show what you know about your field and the company you want to work for. So whatever they ask, answer in full, give as much information as you can without straying from the topic. If you saw an application form with bullet point answers and one with well crafted, thoughtful answers- who would you hire?
Check spelling and write neatly- Ok so it sounds like a parent/teacher thing to say but in the days of computers you probably don’t handwrite much these days. So write neatly and most of all legibly; if an employer can’t read your writing then they won’t be able to see how knowledgeable and fabulous you are! Spelling is a big one, and no matter what I write about, it always comes up. So you know the drill by now, get your dictionary out and check your spelling is perfect!
Personal Statements- Often an application form will have a section for you to write a personal statement, and this gives you the opportunity to let your personality shine through. This should be in a similar vein to your covering letter, giving details about yourself, why you would fit in with the company and what skills and attributes you could bring to the job. Make use of the space and give a well rounded, thoughtful answer. This is definitely a part of the application form that would benefit from drafting it out first.
Read the questions carefully- It’s not a test, but the same advice applies. Read the question and make sure you answer it correctly. If they want an example of something- make sure you give it, if they want your work history listed in reverse chronological order- make sure you do it! If you can’t follow simple written instructions, then you can wave your new job goodbye.
Happy Job Hunting!