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Careers Advice

Application Forms

In many ways it is easier to achieve success with application forms than it is with a CV. An application form constitutes a first interview conducted on paper. As such, you need to be very specific and detailed in providing evidence that your experience matches the criteria of the role. All of this rides on the quality of the supporting statement.

The Process

When your initial application is considered there is often a structured way of assessing your match to the criteria of the role. Your application will effectively be graded per criterion; sufficient evidence, limited evidence or no evidence.

If you have not addressed a particular criterion adequately, the assessor cannot assume you have the experience. The assessor needs specific evidence of your experience in order to award a match point. Thus many great candidates do not provide sufficient information to be shortlisted.

The Supporting Statement

  • Address each of the required essential and desirable criteria.
  • Use specific examples of your experience to provide evidence that you meet the criteria.
  • Be specific and focus on achievements, results and actions.
  • Illustrate the depth and complexity of your experience. This differentiates you from other candidates doing a similar role in a different organisation.
  • Make sure that what you write is relevant and concise.
  • Include key words if there is a chance the form will be electronically scanned.
  • Remember to use a variety of experiences to evidence your skills and attributes and be aware that, once you have thought of one experience, it may easily be the first example you recall for answering other questions.
  • Credit colleagues (collectively) when referencing teamwork. This is important for competency-based questions aimed at understanding the role you played.
  • Never write 'See enclosed CV' in place of an answer. Your application may be disregarded if you do not comply with the company application procedure.

The Basics

  • If your school and first degree qualifications are not from the UK, try to help the employer by suggesting the UK equivalents.
  • Always photocopy the form before completing so that you have a second copy to work from. Once completed make a copy of your original before posting. When you are called for interview this will come in useful as you may be asked questions about your application.
  • Post the application in good time. If you are not sure of the closing date contact the company before completing the application to ensure the deadline has not passed.
  • Before you complete an application form on line, download a copy to work on first. It is important to note that employers often use scanning software that reads forms electronically and does initial selection/ short listing based on keyword searches.

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