Application forms

Application forms can be paper based or online and are probably the most common way of applying for a job. There are some basic rules for filling in application forms, such as:

  • Ensure that all sections of the form are complete and that there are no gaps or errors.
  • Check your form to ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Check that you have spelt the name of the employer and the job title correctly

These may seem like basic tips, but many applications are rejected because of basic errors.

Persuading the Employer to Interview you

Apart from the basics, the most important parts of an application form are the sections where you are invited to write about your skills, knowledge and experience.Some employers use these parts of a form simply to get to know more about you and your strengths. However, many employers are seeking not so much to find out about you, as to find out how you meet set criteria for doing their jobs. This means that you must ensure that you understand what the employer is looking for before you fill in the form as without doing this you are unlikely to secure an interview.

In this respect, application forms often come in two different types:

  • Forms where you are given a series of questions or statements that ask for details about your skills and achievements. These are sometimes called competency based application forms.
  • Forms where you are given a large space (normally about one side of A4) where you are asked to explain why you are applying for the job, or for further information in support of your application. These sections are sometimes called 'personal statement' or 'further information' or something similar.

The premise behind both types of form is the same: the employer is looking for evidence of how you meet their requirements in terms of the skills, attributes, experience and knowledge. This is done directly in a competency based form (where they list the things they are looking for and ask you for details about each one), and is done a bit less directly in a personal statement. If you are filling in an application form with a personal statement section then the first thing to do is to check if a person specification has been provided with the application form - if it has then it is essential that you use the space to show how you meet each one of the criteria in the person specification.

Further information about the different kinds of form and how to complete them in a way that shows how you meet the employer's requirements is given in the Careers and Employability Centre advice sheet Application Forms.

Further Help

A full introduction to Application Forms can be found in our CVs and Applications Learning Resources available via the Resource Library.

The Careers and Employability Centre can offer current students and recent graduates personalised feedback on application forms.

The speak to an adviser service can also be used for other questions about CVs or job applications as well as more general careers advice.