Your application form could make or break your chances of being selected for interview, so you need to make sure it's done well.
Many companies prefer candidates to complete an application form, instead of sending in their CV. Some companies may ask you to submit an application online.
When completing an application form, you should ensure that you:
- Read through all of the instructions and guidance notes thoroughly before attempting to answer any questions;
- Make a copy of the application form so that you can draft your answers first;
- Always use black or blue ink if completing a paper form. You should pay attention to the instructions, as they may specify which colour ink to use and whether you are required to write in capital letters;
- Have legible handwriting. If you do not, word process your form. Do not cross out mistakes or use correction fluid;
- List achievements that will be most relevant to the job you are applying for and use different examples for each question;
- Do not miss out any questions. If there are questions that you feel are irrelevant, write "N/A" or "not applicable";
- Have not responded "see attached CV" to any questions. This will show that you are unable to read instructions;
- Provide a clear answer and use examples to back up your answers for open questions;
- Relate your personal statement to the job specification wherever possible;
- Ask any referees' permission before providing their details. You should also consider whether your referees will make positive comments about you;
- Keep the original form tidy and refrain from eating or drinking when completing the form. Employers will not favour forms with stains on them;
- Choose an appropriate size envelope to send the form in, with correct postage;
- Have signed the form;
- Read through your completed application form before sending it to the employer, checking for grammar and spelling mistakes. If you are not sure how to spell a word, use a dictionary. You may also wish to get a second opinion from a friend or family member before sending the form;
- Keep a copy of the form so that you can refer back to it at a later stage should you need to;
- Have not included your CV or any other documentation, unless you have been asked to.
Additionally, if you are filling in an online application, you should ensure that:
- You make a note of any passwords;
- Any answers can be saved should you wish to amend them at a later stage. If this is not possible, you should save the questions offline (copy and paste if you need to) and draft your answers first;
- You have checked if the system has a spell checking function. If not, check that the form will allow you to copy and paste your answers into a word processing document so that you can check for errors. Alternatively, complete your answers in a word processor first and then paste them into the form;
- You refrain from using text speak, abbreviations or emoticons (smiley faces);
- Save a copy of the form if you will not be able to access it later online.
Once you have completed your application, you should re-read your answers and only submit the form once you are happy with it.