What you need to think about when filling in an application form
Employers often ask for completed application forms rather than CVs.
This means everyone sends in the same kind of information and the applicants can be compared easily and fairly. You usually apply for jobs or apprenticeships online via company websites or by attaching your completed application form to an email. The aim of a well completed application form is to take you to the next stage, which could be an interview or selection test.
Before you start:
- Note the closing date! If you can, give yourself plenty of time to complete the form.
- Get out a copy of your personal information, education, qualifications and work history that you will have prepared earlier, or an earlier completed application form, to make filling in the form easier.
- Read the information about the job (job description and the person specification), so that you know what the employer is looking for.
- Research the company or organisation. Look at their website. This background information could help you complete the form.
- Read the instructions and read the whole form through before you start to fill it in. Plan what to put in each section.
Tips for filling in application forms:
- Always be honest. The chances are you will be found out at interview, or later, if you haven’t been truthful.
- Use sentences and formal English. Don’t use text speak or abbreviations. Good spelling and grammar are very important, so check for mistakes before you send it, or, even better, ask someone else to do a final check, as you may not spot your own mistakes.
- Don’t worry if you leave some sections blank. Some organisations use the same form for different types of job, so if a section is not relevant to you, put N/A (which means ‘not applicable’) to show that you haven’t missed it.
- You will need an email account for replies. Make sure your email address is sensible. You could consider having a separate one just for job applications.
- Make sure you check your emails regularly and reply straight away to any invitations to interviews.
- Finally, if you can, keep a copy of your application, in case you need it for interview preparation and future applications.
You may need help if you have a criminal record and you are applying for work
Depending on the role you are applying for, employers may want to know if you have a criminal record. You need to be honest - the checks will take place regardless of whether you select yes or no. Applying for jobs in the right way will give you a better chance of getting a job. For further advice take a look at the information from NACRO Applying for jobs and volunteering.
You will usually be asked to include the details of two people who will provide a reference for you - ask them for permission first and make them aware that they may be contacted. Make sure you state the full, up-to-date contact details of referees, including their name, job title and relationship to you (e.g. teacher, coach or manager), as well as their email address and/or phone number. Ideally they should be your current employer or tutor/head of year and a person who knows you well, but not a relative.