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20 February 2015
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Get that job: Application form tips

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Job application forms are often used in Northern Ireland because of tough employment legislation. Forms help to standardise applications so that everyone is considered on the same basis, but they can be intimidating and may require hours of work. But you can make the process of filling out application forms easier!

Photocopy the blank form

Before you start, make several photocopies of the form to use as practice forms. Store the original safely so it remains in good condition - a chocolate-covered form will not present you in your best light.

Read the form

Read the whole form through a couple of times to get a feel for what they are looking for. Note down where they want certain information to be presented and check if there’s additional information you’ll need to go and chase up.

Get your details together

Gather all necessary information before you start to write. It’s a good idea to keep a list of key dates, qualifications, training courses as you do them. This will save you time in filling out forms and will be a really useful resource in a few years when you can no longer remember every course you’ve done!

When to complete the form

Leave plenty of time to complete the form. Don’t leave it until the night before it’s due, because then it’s too late to find an important fact or get a photograph taken! Start the form at least one week before it’s due and allow a few hours to get the first draft done.

What to do

Follow all instructions exactly - if they ask for black pen, use black pen. If they ask for a hand-written form, handwrite it yourself. Applications that don’t follow instructions are often dumped. Don’t leave any spaces blank - if a section isn’t relevant, write ‘not relevant’ in the space.

What to put in

Plan what information to include in each section, taking note of the space available - this indicates how much detail the employer wants. If you really can’t get your information into the space, check if you are allowed to include it on an additional sheet. Think of ways to condense information by grouping items or leaving out irrelevant details.

Making drafts

Make several drafts, because applications improve with practice. Ask a friend or teacher to read your drafts and make suggestions. Ensure there are no mistakes in the final draft.

Photocopy the final form

Keep a photocopy of the final form, as this helps you to prepare for interview and is especially useful if you have gone to the trouble of tailoring the form to the job. In fact, the tailoring process is, in many ways, your interview preparation.

Sending it off

A short cover letter is polite, referring to the vacancy and where you saw it. Make sure you use a large envelope so you don’t have to fold the form. Post it well before the deadline - a certificate of posting can be useful to prove when you sent it.


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