For many jobs, the application form is one of the main things that employers will ask for instead of a CV, so it is important to get it right!
Many application forms are done online nowadays, but some employers still insist on filling in a handwritten form. This isn't because they are behind the times, but they often like to see what your handwriting and spelling are like and that you haven't just run it through the spell check! If you do need to hand-write it, you should write clearly using black ink. Regardless of whether you fill it in online or by hand, you should check it carefully for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors so that you don’t make a bad impression!
The kind of information you will be asked for on the form includes:
- Personal information - Name, address, date of birth, email address, phone number, position applied for etc
- Education and Training– This is where you list any qualifications or training courses that you’ve done. You need to look out for how you need to list them though! If it says to put them in CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, you will need to put the earliest one first. Otherwise, start with your most recent.
- Employment History – The same goes for this! Make sure you put them in the order that the employer is looking for. It will usually ask you to give a brief description of your duties, start and end dates, and a reason for leaving.
- Application Statement – This is the most important part of the application form - it lets the employer know whether you could do the job or not! Each job you see advertised will usually have a job description or a person specification for you to read to see if it is suitable for you. You will find a blank page in the application form for you to write down how you meet the criteria they are looking for. When you write your application statement, try to say how the experience and skills you have relate to the job you are applying for. Practice this first! Don't write it straight onto the form as you might make mistakes.
- Criminal Convictions – Depending on the type of job you are applying for, this section may or may not appear on the application form. If the job role will be dealing with vulnerable people, such as the elderly or children, employers need to be aware of any convictions you have had in the past.
- References – These should be people who know you in a professional capacity. You are usually required to put down your current or most recent employer/s. If you haven’t been employed because you are still in full time education, put down your form tutor, head of year or a work experience mentor.
- Signature – Don’t forget this part! You will usually be asked whether the details you have given are correct and sign to confirm that you haven’t given any false information.
In addition to these, most application forms will have separate sections for you to tell them about more personal information, such as ethnicity, religion and disabilities. These make up what is called an ‘Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form’. What goes on this form does not make up part of the interview and it won’t be affect whether you get the job or not. It is used for statistical purposes only!
Once you have finished, go back and check that you have filled in all the sections. Never leave anything blank! It is always a good idea to take a photocopy of the form if you have filled it in by hand so that if you get invited for interview, you can remember what information you have given them. Before it goes in the envelope, or before you press ‘send’, check that you have included all the items requested, such as cover letter, CV and or any extra pages you have used. And don’t forget the stamp!