An application form is the initial method for the employer to ask the questions they want answering, so it is important you do exactly that. However, keep it pertinent and succinct just like a CV, with everything an employer would need to know. This is again all about selling yourself to prove that you possess the skills required to do the job, but with an application there is more opportunity to celebrate you in more detail; so ensure your do.
Format: Every application format is different, just like a CV, but it runs on the same type of info requirements; personal details, education details, work details and then skills section, equal opportunity monitoring, plus your references. One thing to note here is that if they ask for your National Insurance number as proof of eligibility to work in the UK on the form, you don’t by law have to submit this. Your National Insurance number is highly confidential and sensitive info. If this was to become lost so too is your entire life history and details of all of you, be warned. They will no doubt ask to see your ID at interview anyway, so let them see it then.
Employers have definitely become nosier: I have noticed that now online applications often ask for submission of qualification certificates. Again I am always cautious and recommend people send the info (as often the form will not submit without these), but ensure certain elements of the documents remain obscured. Think about it, unless the employer is guaranteed as reputable and even then, things can go astray; especially so if the application is to be posted to the employer. If you have submitted all of your life, address and then qualifications too, not to mention a picture of yourself perhaps, then a potential ID thief has it all.
Skills Prep: As we now know employers are fond of their long winded person specs and lists of wanted skills, so check off all of the points they categorise as essential to the role, and as many from their desirable list as possible too. When it comes to constructing your skills section, once again tell them how you match their requirements with your skills, experience and education. Include relevant stuff, and use working examples not just; “I have excellent communication skills” – really, well how? Prove it. Once again if you are unsure there are plenty of online examples, some will be absolute nonsense, but some sites will give you better understanding of what you could include. If you need any help on this matter let me know – I prepped people daily with recruitment and interview skills and I am used to giving my advice to employers regarding their recruitment processes.
Answer the question: The other thing I would always stipulate is how important answering every question is; even if it is a case of placing ‘none applicable’ in the space. Otherwise it looks as though you have forgotten about it, and this looks careless. Often questions can be repeated in one version or another IE ‘Where do you work now or have worked most recently – include address’, ‘Reference address for current or previous employer’ – they will be the same, but include the info twice anyway. Annoying as it is though.
Honesty: If the form requires your reasons for leaving a job don’t be too blunt. Instead of saying ‘I was fired’, explain why you chose to leave in a positive note. I know many people who have left jobs on not such good terms, but manage to secure another, mainly because of how they explained their departure to their potential new employers. Always think; reinforce any negative with a positive outcome, as employers like this.
Check and double check: Ensure the spelling and so on is correct on your application, just as you would with your CV. I advise, especially with lengthy and complicated applications to complete rough drafts, and allow plenty of time to complete the actual version. Ensure you make as many final checks of this as required, and then make amendments. It is rather like completing an essay for university; only after some time away and reflection can you see the wood for the tress and detect mistakes.
Completion: On many applications it might be possible to reduce time but cutting and pasting information from one document to another, but as my previous post regarding recruitment stated, this isn’t always the case. It can also become messy and upset the whole application format. It is the case unfortunately of adding in the details one tap of the keypad after the other. Take regular breaks though, as there is nothing worse than staring at a computer screen feeling as though you haven’t a clue what to type. If you prep and know the jobs’ requirements, know your skills and strengths it will become easier; use the tips I provided for building your CV to help you with this element.
Interests: If the form asks for your interests outside of work, please don’t include anything you wouldn’t want to tell your Mother, or even things like stamp collecting. There is nothing wrong with stamp collecting, and although employers tend to like innocuous hobbies they prefer those which; A) either show team spirit, B) show creativity or C) prove you have no life at all which might come into conflict with the job you are applying for (which doesn’t signify stamp collecting).
Hope this helps you with your application doldrums; any question regarding this topic and let me know. I am happy to help.