When it comes to finding a new job there are three simple words that strike fear into the heart of many… the application form.
Often used by large companies and public sector organisations, they ask each candidate a (sometimes long and complicated) list of standardised questions.
Many Work Avenue clients, who have their CV perfected and ready to go, are understandably frustrated by this and even put off applying for some jobs altogether.
But before you give up and miss out on a great career opportunity, we are here to help.
This blog is intended to give you some starter advice, and make sure you do not miss out on brilliant opportunities simply to avoid an application form!
The first thing to do, before tossing that application form into a real or virtual bin, is to consider for a moment why employers would use it at all.
Asking candidates to complete a standardised form guarantees consistency and responses to only the relevant questions. In this way, it is a fairer process – giving everyone the exact same opportunity to progress to the interview stage.
And the fact that these forms can take hours to complete and put people off entirely? Some employers will consider this a good thing. After all, if someone won’t fill in the form do they really want the job?
If you are someone that does truly want the job then the application form, once you know how to complete it, offers many advantages.
As you’ll hear in our webinar, Work Avenue has a tried and tested approach. We ensure you complete the application form to stand out from the crowd by demonstrating your interest and enthusiasm in the job and explain how your experience matches the demands of the role.
The form will start with many basic questions – biographical details, education, work experience and referees – which can be copied across from your CV.
It’s the next part where you can really stand out, when it turns to specific job, industry, motivational and competency-based questions.
You will surely be asked why you are you interested in the role and what your career aspirations are. Try to answer specifically, and always try to cite examples. Avoid generic answers – the “I am highly motivated” type – and relate what you say as closely as possible to the nature of the company’s business.
Anyone who has applied for a job or gone for a promotion in recent years, especially in the public sector, will know about competency-based questions.
These are the ones that take the structure of ‘please tell us about a time when…’ or ‘can you describe a situation where…’ and are designed to assess soft skills such as communication, teamwork and problem solving.
The key here is draw on experiences from your work experience, studies, volunteering or personal life that relate to the particular question asked.
We go through this in detail in the webinar and look at the STAR response. This works as follows:
S – SITUATION
Briefly outline the context and the situation.
T – TASK
Explain the task you had to do.
A – ACTION
Talk about the action you took in the context of the task.
R – RESULT
Describe what the results were and what you learnt.
You do not need to give equal weight to each element of the STAR response. Remember the employer is more interested in your action and the result.
Another common question on an application form is to ask what you would do when faced with certain hypothetical problems. In these cases, although the situation is made up, base your answers on the relevant skills needed for the role.
Finally, there is often an open section or ‘personal statement’ on an application form.
While daunting at first, especially if you’ve already spent a lot of time on everything else, this area is the perfect chance to show you are a good fit for the advertised person specification.
The key piece of advice we have here is to familiarise yourself with that specification, and the job demands, and use your statement to describe how you fit. Stay succinct and focussed, do not make the reader work too hard to see how you match the role.
Once everything is filled out, leaving no blank questions, give it a good read over. There are no excuses for typos! Remember that this form is ultimately being used to assess you against set shortlisting criteria. If you can show that you match then you will move onto the interview stage.
Our final tip. Get someone to proof-read your final application form before you send it – our team are very happy to help.
To book your free one-to-one appointment with one of our highly skilled employment advisers, contact Talia 020 8371 3280 or email@example.com.