How to write effective application forms
Instead of a CV, many employers use application forms as the first stage of recruitment.
A standard application form usually requires you to complete sections on your personal details, education and qualifications, work history, supporting information and references. Tailor the details in your work history section to each role, clearly highlighting any overlap between the vacancy and previous work or voluntary experience as well as any achievements or extra responsibilities.
The supporting information/personal statement section is hugely important and should be tailored to the individual role, because this is where you need to convince the employer that you are the right candidate for the job and discuss why you would like to work for their organisation. You should address the job requirements outlined on the person specification one by one and in the same order, providing convincing evidence for your suitability and including key words from the job advert.
Use the STAR technique
STAR is a simple strategy that will help you provide concise, focused answers on application forms and at interview.
SITUATION - briefly describe the context for your example. When was this? Where was this?
TASK - describe what you had to do. What were you hoping to achieve?
ACTION - describe what you did to achieve the task, how you did it and what skills you used
RESULT - briefly describe the outcome. What did you learn? Would you do anything differently in hindsight?
A structured application form which addresses the person specification and the job description makes it easy for the shortlisting panel to identify and score your evidence for each criterion. Due to the volume of applications employers receive for graduate and entry-level roles, candidates who do not clearly and systematically address all the essential criteria from the person specification are very unlikely to make the interview stage.
Help and support available to you:
One to One support in the Careers Zone
Our Employability Advisers can give you tailored feedback and advice on draft application forms to help you sell yourself effectively to potential employers. Call into a Careers Zone or phone us on 0151 231 2048/3719 to arrange an appointment.
Careers Workshops / Webinars
Our ‘Effective Applications’ workshop and webinar will help you understand what employers are looking for in application forms, so you give yourself the best possible chance of getting to that all-important interview. For dates of upcoming sessions, check our events website.
Download our Career Mini Guide
Our mini guide on application forms provides lots more advice on how to tackle application forms and also includes a sample personal statement. Download your copy from the resources page of this site.