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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Top 10 Tips for Completing an Application Form

Sounds easy huh? You might be surprised at how many basic mistakes are made when completing job application forms. When employers are looking at a pile of forms they will instantly dismiss those which are incorrectly completed.  Make sure yours is not one that heads straight for the bin by following our top tips.

1. Take a Photocopy of the Blank Application Form
Keep the original safe and clean (no coffee cup rings or creases) and use a photocopied form and a pencil. If the application form is online, write your draft in Word and then copy and paste it into the application from.

2. Read the Form First!
Read the instructions thoroughly from start to finish before beginning your application and then follow them carefully. This will show the employer that you are able to follow instruction and that you pay great attention to detail. Many handwritten forms state ‘use black ink’ – so whatever you do, don’t use blue!

3. Eye for Detail?
Make sure you use the right company name and job title throughout your application, especially if this is one of many applications you are submitting. Copying and pasting can be dangerous!

4. Provide Evidence
Employers often say exactly what they look for when finding a candidate for a specific role but don't just repeat these requirements. Make sure you know what is needed in each question, identify which of your skills is relevant and then back up your answer with evidence or examples.

5. Answer All Questions
Sounds simple, but check that you haven’t missed out any questions. You should answer all questions, unless instructed otherwise. If a question really does not apply to you, write n/a (not applicable) clearly in the box.

6. Why Are They Asking Me This?
It is very tempting to dive straight in and answer a question at face value but this may result in superficial answers. You will be more convincing if you relate the question to the job tasks, your skills and what you know the company requires.

7. Write Legibly or Word Process
Use block capitals, black ink, or type: whatever the employers want. Word processed applications look much smarter and most are completed this way but beware – is this a test of your handwriting skills?

8. Write Formally
Avoid abbreviations, acronyms and write in full, for example, write wouldn’t as would not and don’t as do not.

9. Check Your Completed Form Thoroughly
First impressions count and no matter how brilliant the content, grammar, spelling and punctuation errors can result in your application landing in the bin. Beware of computer spell checkers - get someone else to proof-read your document. Actually, get two or three people to proof-read it if you can.

10. Keep a Copy of the Completed Form
As part of your job hunting process you will probably fill in numerous application forms, so you need to methodically keep copies of each one. Then when you get an interview you can easily look back at what you told that particular employer.

Good luck!
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