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Application forms

Advice for filling out job applications.

Get the basics right

  • Make sure you’re in the right frame of mind before you start. Otherwise, it’s easy to see an application form as a chore to get out of the way as quickly as possible.
  • Find a quiet, comfortable place and allow yourself a reasonable amount of time to fill in the form.
  • Read all the instructions thoroughly before starting, and follow them exactly.
  • Save your progress at every possible opportunity.
  • To make sure your spelling is correct, spell-check, spell-check and spell-check again.
  • If spell-check isn’t available on the online form, write your text in Word and spell-check it there and then copy and paste it into the form.
  • Avoid shortcuts like copying and pasting text from your CV.
  • Make the effort to tailor your application and prove to the employer that you really want their job.
  • Avoid negative statements. If you are missing specific experience, provide an example that shows similar skills. Instead of saying "no experience in NHS database systems," say "I haven't used NHS databases, but I have used Access and in-house databases. I have a good understanding of databases and can learn new systems quickly."
  • Make sure the dates are correct in the sections on the qualifications and work experience.

Make your application form stand out from the crowd

  • 'Targeting' is the key to a first-class application form. Always relate your answers directly to what the employer says they’re looking for in the job advertisement, or in the job specification.
  • If you have been supplied you with a Person Specification, make sure you’ve addressed each point in the correct order. This makes short-listing much easier for the employer.
  • For each point, provide specific examples of how you have the skills for the job. Don’t just tell the employer you have them (and hope they believe you!).
  • Make sure you’ve mentioned all your relevant skills and experience, whilst keeping what you have written reasonably short and to the point.
  • Make sure your language is positive and dynamic.

Don't fall at the final hurdle

  • After filling in the form, double-check that all questions are answered to the best of your ability.
  • Make it clear which job you’re applying for, including any reference numbers.
  • Make sure you’ve completed, saved and sent the form to the employer before the closing date.
  • If you’re sending a form by post, use an envelope big enough to take the form without folding. (A4 is usually fine.) Remember that the postage you pay will depend on the size and weight of the form – so get it weighed at the Post Office.
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