|Graduate application forms are often complicated to fill in but are also extremely important documents so should be completed carefully. They are generally designed to highlight your professional experiences and qualifications whilst also providing an insight into your personal attributes. They will require evidence drawn from your academic, social and professional life so that you can actually prove your competence. Application forms provide candidates with a level playing field from which to compete, as all applicants will be required to answer exactly the same questions.|
|Before You Start|
|Generally, whether an application form is to be completed in writing or online, an application pack will be provided which consists of a job description, person specification and guidance notes. This information must be read carefully before you start completing the form so that you are aware of any word counts or application deadlines. Also, it is important to make sure that you actually fulfil the essential criteria of the person specification.
When filling out different application forms, it is always useful to have pre-prepared lists of all the common information that you will be required to provide. For graduates in particular, detailed information on your qualifications, dates of study and grades obtained will be very useful for you to keep a list of as well as any job descriptions key achievements. Note down what skills and attributes you developed as a result of your experiences and information on extra-curricular activities undertaken whilst at university. Having this information to hand can help you to save an enormous amount of time when applying for jobs.
It is also useful to research the company you are applying to before filling in the form. As a graduate, it is particularly important for you to be able to demonstrate an understanding of the industry that you wish to enter so that you can show that your knowledge is not purely academic. The Internet is possibly the most useful source of information but you can also contact the company directly with any questions you may have.
|Filling in the Form|
|Before completing an application form photocopy it so that you can practice filling the form in to make sure that your answers fit the spaces available. Unless the guidance notes specify to the contrary, paper based application forms should be completed in black ink.
Online application forms often require you to register your information before completing the form so carefully record your registration details to ensure that you are able to return to your information at a later date if required. Never submit your application until you have read through it and, if possible, print it off as well. By doing this, you are able to remind yourself of the answers to the questions if you are called for interview.
Generally, the education and employment sections of the application form are self-explanatory and should be completed entirely honestly as this information is very easy to verify. Overseas applicants need not try to convert their qualifications into a UK format as many employers now use a qualification conversion table. Some application forms will want you to include all of your modules studied and grades obtained whereas others will ask merely for you to summarise this information. The employment section usually requires job descriptions for all or some of the jobs you have undertaken. Be aware of space or word limitations and remember to include part-time or voluntary work if applicable.
The final stages of the application form will generally be the references, data protection and equal opportunities monitoring sections. Make sure that you get permission from the people you choose to be your referees and also be careful to choose people that are likely to give you a positive reference!
|Personal Statements of Competency Questions|
|In general, most application forms will require you to complete a personal statement or a series of competency questions specifically designed to find out why you are applying for the role and to the company in particular and what skills and experience you have that match the person specification. You can refer to experiences from your time at university, either during your studies or through your involvement in sports, societies or other activities.
When answering set questions, make sure that the information you provide actually answers the question and that you can provide evidence for each area. Again, make a note of any word restrictions and be sure to adhere to this as any extra words you use may simply be ignored. Read through the person specification, highlight any essential criteria and relate these to your own experiences.
If asked why you are applying for the job, the research you carried out will be invaluable as you will be able to emphasise what you can offer and what you hope to gain from the role. Be sure to demonstrate your enthusiasm and your commitment to your own personal and professional development.
If you do not fulfil all of the criteria of the person specification, it is possible to get round this by highlighting other areas in which you can add value. You should also express your willingness to learn new skills and undertake further training.
Try to make use of "buzz" words that are directly related to the company or the role you are applying for, as some employers will have a checklist of these to make sure that you understand the field. Remember, though, that you will have to back this up if you get asked for interview so try not to overreach yourself here.
|When you have completed the application form, make sure that you read through it carefully to check for spelling errors and other mistakes. With paper based forms, correct any mistakes as neatly as possible using correction fluid or one line through the word. Keep a copy of the form for your own records and make sure that it is submitted before the deadline.|
These job application form tips were produced with the help of The CV Centre to ensure only the most useful and up to date advice was provided.