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!
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 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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.