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Effective Applications

It’s more than likely that you have applied for a job with a CV in the pastread on to find out more about how to handle an application form

Student writing

Why do I need to do one?

Application forms enable employers to easily compare candidates more easily.  They can be submitted on paper but are now more commonly completed on-line. If you do have to submit a paper application, it should be typed or handwritten in black ink.

What do I need to consider?

Look at the job description. What skills, qualities, qualifications and experience does it ask for?  The requirements for a job can be found in the advertisement, the job description and the person specification.  The person specification lists the qualifications, experience, skills and qualities needed for the job and whether they are essential or desirable requirements. It is a good idea to address all the essential requirements first and in the same order they have been listed.

Do I need to write a personal statement?

The personal statement can be the most important section on your application. It is best completed in an application like Microsoft Word or Text and then pasted onto the application. The first part of this section should explain why you are suitable for the job/course covering three areas: education, work experience and other areas of your life that are relevant. The middle and main part should provide evidence targeting the requirements for the job/course. The last part should summarise your strengths and re-emphasise enthusiasm for the job/course.

Types of Questions

As well as a personal statement, you may be asked general and/or competency questions. The form will usually allow you to use a specific number of words so be concise!

General questions aim to get more information about you, e.g. ‘Why have you applied for this role?’

Competency questions aim to find out whether you have the employability skills they are looking for, e.g.  ‘Tell us about a time where you had to use good time management skills’

How do I make my application stand out?

Most graduate employers get numerous applications but you have a good chance of standing out from the crowd if you research the role and target your submission. If you are not getting to the interviews stage of applications, reflect on your strategy and talk to a Careers Adviser about how you can make improvements. The common mistakes are outlined below:

  • Poor spelling and grammar – get somebody to read proof read your application for mistakes.
  • Not answering the questions – read each question carefully and list its different parts.
  • Underselling yourself – be positive about what you have to offer and clearly outline how you have demonstrated the skills required.
  • Restricting your range of applications – look for a career in other fields or locations that you may not have previously considered.
  • Always seek feedback – this may help you to improve your future applications.

Remember the Careers and Placements Service can help you with application forms whilst you are a student and for two years after graduation. Visit CareerHub for resources on application forms or book an appointment with a Careers Adviser on CareerHub.

Image of Katharine Littlefair

Katharine Littlefair is a Careers and Placements Officer in the Careers and Placements Service at the University of Hertfordshire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images: University of Hertfordshire (c) All Rights Reserved

  1. Phoenix It Services
    15/11/2012 at 17:01

    I think what you said about the Personal Statement is spot on. I think that not enough people applying for jobs do this. Often they feel that they are no better than anyone else thus the truly don’t believe that they have skills and talents that others don’t. Great post.

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