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Why are application forms important?

Creating the right first impression can go a long way, so it’s essential that you put time and effort into your application form. Employers often receive large volumes of applications per vacancy so tailoring your application to each role that you apply for is key.

Application forms enable companies to standardise shortlisting and often the reason why applicants are not shortlisted isn’t just down to minimum academic achievement criteria – instead, it’s because applicants don’t evidence enough in the shortlisting criteria section. We have outlined below some simple rules to follow to help you stand out from the crowd – so sell yourself well.

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Be clear and concise

Recruiters are not naive – most realise that you will be applying to a number of different companies. However it is very easy, when completing a number of very similar application forms, to ‘copy and paste’ answers across. However it is essential that you tailor your application to each company and show that you want to work for them, in that industry and in that particular role.

The employer also wants to see how you will fit into their company – and this means that you need to think carefully about the types of attributes, interests and qualities they want to see and then make sure that these are demonstrated in your own application For example, an employer looking for future managers will be looking for leadership qualities on application forms. Changing a sentence from ‘key member of the hockey team’ to ‘I personally led the senior hockey team to their first cup victory in five years’ (as long as this is true!) will make sure that you are bringing these skills to an employer’s attention.

You should always make sure to include as much relevant information as possible in your application. This should include your education history (if requested), your previous work experience, your address and other contact details. Make sure that you don’t overload the reviewer, the information presented should be concise and relevant to the particular position you are applying however with sufficient evidence to substantiate each area.

Tailor your application

Taking two or three sentences to answer a question that could have been answered in one risks an employer glossing over your answer completely. Your sentences need to have purpose and to be as concise as possible to keep the reader interested – make sure every sentence ticks a box in the reviewer’s mind. For example if you have been working in your spare time for a supermarket, please do put that down on your application form, but the employer does not need a two page description of what that role entails as that won’t make you stand out from other people who have done similar part-time jobs. However, if you were given any extra responsibility or received some excellent feedback from a customer or from a manager, then that is worth noting

Accuracy is key

Spelling and other grammatical errors do not have a good impact. When employers are receiving so many quality applications, you don’t want to be shooting yourself in the foot by showing a lack of attention to detail. We recommend that you prepare your answers in a word document first so that you can utilise spell check (as this isn’t often available in application forms). However, it’s important to make sure that you proof read your answers and take your time to make sure they’re perfect.

Show off your transferable skills

Be sure to demonstrate situations when you have had to use skills which are directly transferable into the job that you are applying for and which will show reviewers why you would be good at that job. Demonstrate your problem solving, teamwork, workload management and analytical skills, as well as your ability to cope with high pressure situations. These will give employers confidence that you can adapt these skills to their work environment.