The prospect of completing a job application can be quite daunting at the best of times, and more so if you haven’t done one for a while or if you have several to do in a short space of time.
The days when a large envelope containing the job description, person specification, application form and other sundry items would arrive in the post are long gone. Nowadays these will usually be online, though hard copies can be requested.
But the question that comes to mind when receiving these probably is the same: where to start?
This article provides some practical tips about getting started and moving through this process.
A large part of the time and effort required for a good application goes into the preliminary work. Good preparation is essential: avoid the temptation to start completing the form as soon as you receive it.
The first thing to do is to ensure your CV is up to date.
This has the basic personal data required for applications: education, qualifications, work experience, with dates. Completing an application whilst trying to remember details and trawling through different files to locate information wastes time and causes stress. Have it all to hand before you start as this will enhance your feeling of confidence before you embark on the form filling.
If you have several applications to complete, prioritize according to their deadlines. Each one is unique so focus on one at a time.
The next step is to thoroughly read the job description and person specification. And then read them again.
You’ve already decided that you’re interested in this role by initiating the application process.
When seeing the details laid out, ask yourself questions such as:
- Is this something you are qualified for?
- Do you have the relevant experience and skills?
- Are you enthusiastic about the role?
There may be aspects that might seem beyond your qualifications or experience and others that look challenging but with some training, you could do.
There will be information provided about where the work will be carried out- can you get to those location(s)? Do look as well at the hours of work: are they fixed or is flexibility required?
Essential/Desirable attributes and experience
This list will also help decide whether you go ahead with the job application.
The essential aspects are usually non-negotiable. They could include things like having a clean driving licence, a higher degree, experience of working with older people. If you don’t have the majority of the essentials, reconsider whether you continue or not.
You’ve probably already done some research into the company, organization or institution and might want to do some more at this point.
The more you know in advance, the better placed you are to complete the application competently and confidently.
Completing the Form
After the necessary preparation, you will be ready to start.
The first part will be listing your basic personal details, taken from your CV.
Whilst your personal information will remain the same, how it is presented will need to be tailored to fit the role.
Not all forms have sections in the same order and some require more detail than others.
Highlight not only your experience that is relevant to this role but also the transferable skills that you can bring to it. You may be applying for a role that is different from previous ones you’ve held but calls for similar skills.
You will probably be asked to provide a supporting statement and on some applications, there is clear guidance in terms of the main duties of the job. Others have a more open personal statement or cover letter section for you to complete.
Whatever the format, you need to show here how you are the best person for the job.
It’s a narrative about you and what you have to offer so make it stand out. Everything written here should matter. This should be clear, succinct and be interesting for the recruiters.
You should match your personal information to the main tasks and duties of the post being applied for. Indicate how you would apply your qualifications, skills and experience to the job role and what is unique to you.
Do not just rewrite your CV here and avoid repetition.
You can give a few illustrative examples where relevant and also show your enthusiasm for the undertaking the post. You should also indicate your potential to learn new skills and develop existing ones.
You should read and edit several times.
Finally, try to have your application reviewed by a colleague or friend. They might think of things you’ve missed and even spot those final typos.
When you’re satisfied you’ve done the best you can submit all relevant documents before the deadline.