I don't think I have ever come across anyone who enjoys filling out a job application form – I'm not a fan, myself! Unfortunately, more and more employers are using these as part as their recruitment process as an alternative to CVs, so it's important that you fill them out correctly.
Each box and request for information should be fully completed, however, I would question whether you should fill in personal details, such as your age and other personal information that could potentially be used to discriminate against you…but, hey, that's another blog post!
Here are my top 10 tips on how to complete a job application form:
1. Take your time to fill in the form. You shouldn't rush, as mistakes can be made.
2. Use a black biro pen if it's a handwritten application. It's easier to read, particularly when printed or photocopied.
3. Write in block capitals unless stated otherwise. Again, this is easier to read. If it is an online application, don't do block capitals – use normal text.
4. Use the information on your CV as a guide and transfer it onto the form. Unless your CV is rubbish, then you need me to do a new one for you! 🙂
5. Ensure you complete the boxes that ask for additional information or general comments. Use the opportunity to market your skills and experience. You can put your personal profile in these sections, BUT don't use any of the naff words I wrote about recently. See here.
6. If there are any specific question on the application form, make sure you take your time and really think about your answers. You'll be surprised how many candidates don't. Keep your answers succinct and to the point.
7. Work History should only go back 10 years maximum unless otherwise stated. It's OK to use a separate piece of paper if you need more space rather than trying to squeeze in illegible text.
8. If there is a section asking for your reasons for leaving your previous roles, keep your answers brief ie. Career progression, end of contract, contract ended (if you were sacked!), relocation and so on. Avoid being ambiguous by stating personal reasons or private as it may look like you have something to hide.
9. Salary requirements may be asked for. In this instance, make sure that you have researched the role and know the average salary range of similar positions. Realistically state a range that you require that won't price you out of the market or undersell your skills.
10. Proof read your application form over and over again as though your life depends on it. Ask a friend to help. A fresh pair of eyes may pick up mistakes you have missed.
Don't forget to post your application form or send it via email before the deadline and with a cover letter. Very important!
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