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Application forms

There are lots of different types of forms, and it is not enough just to copy your CV into the form. 

e-Lesson

Complete our Application Forms e-Module.

This e-Lesson will help you to understand the different methods of applying for jobs and how to write strong personal statements that make the reader eager to find out more.

Types of forms

  • competency based
  • personal statement
  • online
  • paper.

Competency based applications are the most common, and are typically found in graduate recruitment. 

Their purpose is to assess the skills you have and whether they fit with the role you are applying for. They often ask for a personal statement.

Research

  • Identify which skills, interest and experiences the employer is looking for. The best place for this is the job description or person specification.
  • Read the organisation's website, social media profiles and key literature. Make sure you understand the company's market, goals, mission statement, etc.
  • Speak with people doing a similar job role or anyone you know working at the company. Use LinkedIn to find employees of the organisation, or use Glassdoor to read reviews employees have left.
  • Research the news, trends, competitors, history and opportunities for the organisation and its sector. Use sites such as Google News. Also read career and industry specific websites.

Complete application questions: STAR

For competency based applications, focus your answers around your skills and experiences and relate these directly to the criteria given in the job description. 

Use the STAR technique:

S: Situation – what was the situation? Give a brief outline of the challenge that faced you.

T: Task – What did you have to achieve? Describe the goal you needed to get to, whether individually or as part of a team.

A: Action – What skills and processes were used? What was your input into the team and how did you contribute to the effort? Include details of any systems or processes that are particularly relevant to the role you are applying for.

R: Result – What was the outcome? What did you learn from the situation? Explain why the outcome was positive and how that helped your team or developed the situation. If the outcome was not positive, focus on what you learned from the experience and what you would do to make sure a similar situation is successful in the future.

Top application tips

  • tailor your application to each employer

  • give yourself plenty of time to write your application

  • use power verbs, such as 'transformed', 'delivered', 'achieved' and 'inspired'

  • choose descriptive words like 'effective', 'consistent', 'determined' and 'adaptable'

  • focus on the questions asked rather than waffling or being too vague

  • select appropriate examples of your achievements from past experience

  • show genuine enthusiasm for the role.