Application Form Tips



Many recruiters ask prospective candidates to apply using a company application form.  This enables an employer to compare applicants on a like-with-like basis.  There is more likely to be a job specification, with notes provided on how to complete the application form.  When you fill in an application form, the interviewer will be checking that you meet clearly set criteria.

  • Read through the job advertisement several times
  • Think about what sort of person the organisation wants to hire - are you a good match?
  • Read through the advert again and note down thoughts you have on how you can prove you are the right candidate for the job


  1. Photocopy your application form - use the photocopied application to practice before transferring the information to the original.
  2. Read the Instructions carefully - do you have to write in capitals? Do you have to complete it in black ink?
  3. Read over the Job Advert again - make sure that the information you include on the form is relevant.
  4. Answer all the questions - make sure you complete all the boxes.
  5. Explain gaps in Employment History - if there are gaps in your employment history, say what you were doing during that time; eg bringing up children or volunteering or simply "unemployed".
  6. Compare what you have written with the Job Description - is it concise, clearly showing why you are right for the job.
  7. Inlcuded skills developed from outside work - this can include skills from voluntary work or leisure pursuits.
  8. Keep it Neat and Tidy - a messy coffee stained application form will go straight in the bin!!
  9. Make a copy of the Form - you can read it through before interview to resfresh your memory.
  10. Proof Reading - ask someone with a fresh pair of eyes to check through the application.  You may not be able to see your own mistakes.

Above all, make sure that you match the skills asked for in the job advert to your own skills, and demonstrate how you developed those skills.

Personal Statements: Many application forms require you to complete a personal statement in support of your application.  You will usually be asked to give your reasons for applying and other information relevant to the job specification, including your knowledge, skills and experience.  Your personal statement should relate directly to the specifications of the job or course you are applying for. It is important that you address all the points in the job specification in the order in which they appear. Imagine this being used as a check list by the person short-listing. Address each point on the job specification in a clearly themed way. In your first sentence you might make a short statement summarising how you meet or relate to the requirement. The next few sentences should provide a concrete example of the statement you have just made.

References: Two Referees are the norm, one academic and one work related; or a character referee if allowed.  Give their phone number and email, along with their title and full contract address.  Always ask for their permission first and remember to keep them informed of your career aspirations and achievements to date.  If a reference from you immediate manager is not possible, consider using someone else in the company.  If using an international referee, it is a good idea to confirm with them that they can provide a fax or email in English.

Online Applications: Check these points to make sure your online application is up to scratch.  The content and visual impression of online application forms is just as important as in conventional application forms.  When applying on line:

  • Check to see if any online help is offered or fi there are written guidelines
  • Check that you can save your answers and amend them, or complete the form later.  If not, download or print off the questions and draft your answers first
  • The form may allow you to copy and past your answers from a word processing document.  This can save time and decrease errors
  • If the text goes into an expanding box, check how far it stretches and whether you can change the font size
  • Do not use symbols in the text as they can cause problems
  • Consider the content of your answers carefully and spend plenty of time on drafting
  • Some employers scan applications to see if you have used key works and phrases, so think carefully about how you describe your activites and skills
  • Use action words such as "organised", "responsible", "lead", "planned" - and try to match these expressions to the job description or person specification, or the key skills referred to in the section headings
  • Print and save a copy so you can look at it again before the interview
  • Only send in your application when you are completely satisfied with the result and have proof read it