- By Check-a-Salary
- Posted Sunday 15
th September 2019
Whilst some positions you apply for will require you to submit your CV with a covering letter / email, many companies will ask you to complete a standard application form. Some companies (often larger companies with a high volume of applications or those filling graduate positions) prefer their applicants to fill out an application form (usually online but occasionally on paper) so that they can compare applicants using the same format.
So, if you are completing a standard application form, how do you stand out from the crowd?
1. Be Factual
The first thing to say is that you should ensure you complete the job application form accurately. Use the information from your CV (assuming it’s up to date!) to complete the personal information, education and employment history sections as well as accurate information for references.
Although these sections call for factual information, you can still use your research on the company to bring to the fore those elements of your education or previous employment that are most relevant to the position you are applying for.
Look at the job description carefully and try to match your skills and experience accordingly. Highlight any duties or responsibilities you have currently, or have had previously, which are detailed in the job description.
Don’t lie! Stick to the facts and don’t over embellish.
2. Now Be Creative!
Some application forms will only require a basic level of information and the employers will then seek to find out more from you at the interview stage.
However, the majority of companies will include a section aimed at getting to know you – the you beyond your education and experience.
This might take the form of a personal statement or there may be a section with specific questions aimed at establishing your competency for the role, based on your skills and abilities.
3. Personal Statements
The point of a personal statement is to give you, the candidate, the opportunity to tell your potential new employer more about yourself so they can get to know you.
In order to make the most of this opportunity, you should first look at the company’s website in order to understand what they do, where they stand in their market and who their main competitors are.
You should also look at any social media platforms the company use to get a sense of their ethos – knowing what social media a company uses also tells you whether they are a modern or more traditional company and you can alter your personal statement accordingly.
Ultimately, you want to show that you are the best person for the job, so bring to the forefront any skills, training or experience that is most relevant to the position and explain how these things demonstrate that you are the most suitable candidate for the job.
Most importantly, don’t waffle or try to ‘pad’ your personal statement with words. Stick to the facts and use descriptive words and phrases to demonstrate your suitability. Ensure that everything you write is relevant to the position and the company and where possible, provide examples – for example, if you say that you are good in a crisis, provide a brief description of an occasion that supports this claim.
Remember, this is your chance to sell yourself so make sure you do your homework and make the most of the opportunity.
4. Competency-Based Questions
Many companies will use competency-based questions to establish a candidate’s suitability for a position. This allows them to directly compare candidates and ensures every candidate has to demonstrate certain skills or experience.
As with personal statements, it’s important to do as much research as possible on the company, so as well as checking out the company website, ensure you also look at all social media used by the company.
Read the job description thoroughly and ensure that you demonstrate the required skillset when answering the questions.
The types of questions posed will vary, depending on the type of job you are applying for, but generally, employers want their candidates to show examples of resilience, leadership qualities, commitment and the ability to work as a team.
So, you might be asked to give an example of when you have had a positive impact on your team, or you might be asked to provide an example of when you have worked well under pressure. Whilst it’s tempting to ramble on, make sure you customise your answers so that they fit with the job description and company ethos.
Inevitably, two things seem to come up again and again and these are being asked about your strengths and weaknesses. Clearly, it’s easier to talk about your strengths than your weaknesses, but being honest and being able to identify areas of yourself which require work, shows that you are actively looking to grow as a person and this is appealing to prospective employers.
Whether you are required to write a personal statement or answer competency-based questions, you should gather as much information as possible about the company and the job on offer. Use this information to tailor your statement or your answers to the skills and experience required for the position.
Finally, make sure your spellings and grammar are correct – it’s helpful to get someone else to read through the application form before you send it and get them to check for mistakes and, if you value their opinion, ask them for feedback. Ensure you have returned the form before the closing date and check that all your contact information is included.
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