To stand the best chance of being included in an employer’s 'invite to interview' pile you need to make the best impression you can of your abilities and/or achievements in your application. Naturally, you should avoid any spelling or grammatical errors and follow the instructions supplied by the employer when completing the form; and take note of when the closing date is for when your application should be submitted. Questions people often ask us are:
- Do I need to include details of all my education/jobs to date?
- Should I mention any part-time or voluntary jobs I’ve got or had in the past?
- How can I make my application stand out?
Hopefully, this page and some of the links therein will answer these questions (and more) about how best to make a successful job application.
Once you have found a job(s) you want to apply for, it is highly likely that you will need to apply either with a cv/cover letter or more typically by completing the employer’s electronic application form. Whilst these are all slightly different from one employer to another, common areas covered in application forms are:
- Personal information – name and contact details.
- Educational background - information on your academic achievements, including the institutions you've attended, courses taken and qualifications gained.
- Work experience - list your employment history and describe your main duties and responsibilities in each role, emphasising those most closely related to the job you're applying for.
- Competency-based questions - give specific examples of times when you've demonstrated the skills required for the role. Avoid being vague, and don't waste space writing about skills you have that aren't relevant.
- Personal statement - write a well-structured, well-argued case that you are the right person for the job, again referring to the person specification set out in the advert.
Before completing the form, it is a good idea to have a record of your educational and employment history. You will need to add these details on the form as well as the contact details of the referees you are going to use - perhaps this is all on your CV?
Want to impress the employer in your application? I’m sure you do and one way you can is by finding out about them – who are their competitors? Where are they positioned in the sector they operate in? Have they recently invested in a new development/initiative? Social media channels are a good place to find this information. Having this knowledge will be useful in your application (and at interview) and will complement the research you do on the specific job you are applying for.
Finally give yourself enough time to complete the form well – some jobs have a high volume of applications so any spelling/grammatical errors will be jumped on as reason for discarding some very strong applications. So double check your form before hitting the “send” button. Or better still get someone else to check it through for you, it’s amazing what a fresh pair of eyes can notice!
Remember, a lot of forms are electronic so it may be possible to save your application, allowing you to complete it in stages rather than all at one sitting.
Want to know more?
- The Prospects website has a lot of useful information on making successful applications for jobs including making a speculative (non-advertised) application
- Wider information on applications is included on TARGET jobs
If you would like further advice on your application, and how to get it into a prospective employers 'invite to interview' pile, please book an appointment with an Employability Adviser.