Job Application Forms: How to Write Effectively and Successfully
Recent statistics have shown that over a third of job seekers fail to secure an interview after submitting a job application form. An application form acts as a sort of self-introduction to a company: it shapes the first impression a potential employer will have of you. By following a few simple guidelines, it is easy to perfect your command of the written word and ensure that this first impression is a favorable one.
Speak in specifics, not generalities. The majority of job application forms comprise of competency-based questions. The employer wants to be provided with evidence of your capabilities. Showcase your good points not with forgettable lists of personal qualities, but with specific examples of situations which you have used them. When responding to a question, think in terms of SAS: a Situation in your personal or professional life, the Action you undertook, how this action led to Success. Detail makes for a more interesting read, and thus a lasting impression.
Use short, succinct sentences. You want to include detail, but you do not want to be convoluted in your answers. Each sentence should encapsulate a new point: do not waste time or space repeating yourself. Try to keep to one theme within every new paragraph. Remember that application forms are often read quickly. If a point is embedded too deeply in long sentences and long paragraphs, it may well be missed. Condensed and concise sentences make for greater ease of reading – vital when you’re trying to impress the reader.
Consider the tone of your responses. You want to use your short and succinct sentences to be matter-of-fact, but not terse. Aim for a formal but friendly tone. Using positive and affirmative language (e.g. ‘I am’ rather than ‘I think I am’) will create an impression of competency and enthusiasm. A friendly tone and good readability (see previous point) will enable you to emphasize your good points without sounding arrogant. Do not be afraid of the occasional exclamation mark – when appropriately placed, they can lighten the tone and add an enjoyable sparkle to your answer! Case in point.
Check, check and check again. Before you submit the application, make sure your spelling and grammar are flawless. Clumsy errors are not only irritating for the reader but they immediately suggest a lack of care in your work, and you could be dismissed from certain jobs on the basis of this alone. It sounds simple, but make sure your answers are consistent and not self-contradictory: it is no good saying you are diligent while failing to fully complete a section of the form, for example. If you say you attach a CV, attach a CV! Ensure that the application is 100% complete before you send it off. Now is not the time for silly errors.
As with any skill, the completion of a job application form can be improved upon with practice and attention to detail. Unlike in an interview situation, you have the opportunity to take your time, reassess and make everything word perfect. Take advantage of this. Do not let yourself be part of that unlucky third who fail to progress further than the form. If you take into account the above advice, the all-important interview is bound to follow.