Stand Out on Your Application Form
Posted by: Sue Harrington, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight
When applying for a job, there are two important opportunities for convincing a potential employer to select you over other applicants: the application form and the interview.
Many application forms now ask applicants to explain why they should be considered for the job – which is good news because it is your chance to sell yourself, make a good impression and secure an interview.
This means that completing an application form is not simply an administrative task – it’s an important part of the recruitment process.
Here are my top tips on how to maximise your impact:
1. First impressions really matter – make sure you complete the form fully and accurately and check your spelling. If you can’t complete the form online, keep your handwriting as neat as possible.
2. Identify your strengths by completing Capp’s Realise2 strengths assessment (www.realise2.com) and apply them to the requirements of the job. For example, strengths such as Detail, Order and Planful would be very useful in a job that involves project management, while Service, Explainer and Listener would help you in a call centre role.
3. Describe your strengths in relation to the job responsibilities. For example, “I am a good listener and I am able to explain complex ideas to others clearly”. Better still, illustrate with an example – perhaps you ran the debating society or were part of a mentoring programme at school.
4. Be specific when you are asked to explain why you should be considered for the job. Build your answer around the job description and the person attributes to show how you fit the requirements – using your strengths examples to illustrate the point.
5. Include anything that demonstrates your initiative, motivation and employability – as well as your qualifications. This includes any work experience, paid or voluntary; other positions you have held, such as a team captain at school; hobbies and interests, particularly where you have learnt new skills (e.g., sailing, rock climbing or writing apps).
6. Stand out – what have you done that is different to the norm, that demonstrates that you have what it takes to succeed in this role, and showcases your future potential by highlighting your past achievements?
7. Seek feedback from other people and ask them to check your application form for errors and improvements before you send it.
By adopting these strategies, you increase your chances of being invited for an interview. They won’t be enough to get you the job – that’s down to you, after all – but they will take you one step further along the process.
And remember, all you need to do is ensure you get to the next stage each time. At the final stage, of course, if you’re successful, you’ll be offered the job!