Avoid silly pitfalls with our advice on how to sell your skills on an application form.
Once your education is nearing an end you may think the tough ride is over, well think again. Another challenge lies ahead now, and that's getting the job. You've got to fight for that role, as you'll be up against hundreds of fellow applicants all vying for the same position.
Nicola Rowledge, who works within HR learning and development at Yorkshire Water has a hands-on role in the company's graduate intake programme. Here's her advice on how best to shine on the application form.
Many people don't give themselves enough time to hit deadlines. You may think an application form will only take half hour to complete, but if you want to complete it correctly, you'll need much more time than that. You'll also want to leave the form and come back to check over it at a later date, so make sure you don't leave the job ‘till the last few days before deadline.
Every organisation will have a "killer" question as they call them, a question as simple as do you have a full driving licence or do you have the right to work in the UK without the need of a company-sponsored visa. Simply put, if you cant answer yes to them your application will be immediately declined. Similarly, if you don't complete all those questions, your application will not be submitted.
It is simple to accidentally miss out a basic question like those above, but such a slip up could take you out of the running for a position before you've even started. Also be sure to fully complete all the questions asked - many organisations like Yorkshire Water do use competency screening and you may lose points by not responding in full.
"We have competency-based screening so if you don't complete an answer fully you may reduce your ability to score points. If you don't give yourself the maximum opportunity to display evidence of demonstrating skills you're holding yourself back," Rowledge says.
Another pitfall is that many applicants try and complete an application form in one go. This is not the best approach.
Many application processes are now online, allowing you to log in and out as you choose. You can return to your application and update or change an entry before doing the final submission. Take advantage of this ability, its there to help you.
Also, call on a friend.
"Get a friend to check your examples before you submit," says Rowledge. "They might point out better examples of how you demonstrated a skill. A friend may be less modest than you and let you know how you're selling yourself short."
"Not spell and grammar checking an application form is an absolute no no - especially at graduate level," Rowledge explains.
You can be expected to be screened on the quality of your grammar, spelling and how you write. Keep this in mind.
Be sure to declare any disabilities such as Dyslexia as this will then be taken into consideration when being screened.
Finally, and most importantly, preparation is key. Before going near the form itself, sit back and consider what your skills are. Look at the job spec and see what it requires. Brainstorm, think of your strengths. Think of times you can evidence where you used specific skills. Then put pen to paper and write out your responses on some notepaper. Hone these answers until you are happy that they're the best they can be and move onto the form itself.
Taking all these points into consideration will give you a good standing. Competition is fierce in the current environment, but if you apply yourself to the application process to the best of your ability then you have a fighting chance.