Applying for a job - some tips for the Application Form

Now, I'm not an expert. My credentials are - I've been employed all my adult life except for 6 months in my early 20s (when I lived in a bedsit, got into debt and nearly starved) and a year off for maternity leave. I have always been successful in every job I've applied for except one.

Now I'm in the sort of middle management role where it's my turn to ask the questions of prospective employees and I can tell you we see some brilliant applications, and some rubbish. Over the years in the many jobs I've worked in I've been involved with employing various grades of staff and the jobs that require little or no formal qualifications attract both the most applications, and the widest range of applications!

The Application

So here are some things I suggest you DO
  • Ring the company and ask a few questions, let them know you are keen about the job
  • Read up all about the company you hope to work for. Know what they do, what they sell, etc
  • Read the job description, be sure you know what the role entails and that you both want to do it and can do it.
  • Check what the application requires. Does it ask for a supporting statement? Then you must include one(really important - this is where you sell yourself), Does it require a list of your previous jobs starting at the most recent or the first job you had? Get this the right way round! etc
  • Do you fulfill all the 'essential' and some 'desirable' job attributes?, don't let the reader guess! Ensure you prove that you do.
  • If the company provide a paper copy of an application, photocopy it and fill in the copy as a practice, then when you are ready, write it on the 'good copy' in neat. This means you won't have spelling mistakes, crossings out or missed words.
  • Do not use all capitals unless that is specifically asked for.
  • Use the correct colour pen! Does the application ask for black? Use Black!
  • Ask a friend to read through the application before you submit it (or before you copy it out in neat!)
  • If the application is online use spell check, you can type your application up in a word processing program and copy and paste it when you are ready.
And here are some things I suggest you DON'T DO
  • Use pencil
  • Cross things out on your application
  • Leave large sections of your job history blank - an employer won't mind that you were 'unemployed' but if left blank they might wonder what you were up to!
  • Include weird hobbies. Unusual hobbies are fine, but surfing the net for p*rn is not something to share.
  • Forget the name of the company or become confused about what they do
  • Brag that you can do things that are not asked for in the job description (especially if you haven't covered the essentials that you can do!)
  • Put yourself down, you may be asked at interview about negative points, don't include them here! 
  • Write a supporting statement that has no bearing on the job you are trying to get
  • Write a supporting statement that is only a sentence long.
  • Write a supporting statement longer than a single side of A4 paper
You are probably reading and muttering "but that's all obvious" - it is not because we weed out applications like this all the time! If your application is one of 100 you need to look like a good prospect to even get an interview, the application form is very very important.

Next I'll cover the hilarity of interviews .....

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