The Application Process

The Application Process

Spending your days filling out countless job applications while procrastinating your university work or in the empty void after graduation can be tiring. Nonetheless, it is important that you know what exactly it is you need to impress employers (who also have to look through endless amounts of forms) to get through to the next stage of the process.

What is an application form?

Some application forms may only ask you for your contact information and a copy of your CV and cover letter, others are more extensive and require more details from you. These forms are often completed online from the company’s website and are designed to highlight your qualifications and professional experience in order to narrow the pool of potential candidates.

You will be required to provide evidence of your academic, vocational and social life to prove your competence. Think of an application form as a way to gain a level playing field against your fellow graduates – this is your chance to let an employer know all of your achievements and skills that make you perfect for the role.

How do they work?

Online application forms are utilised by employers as they are useful in sifting out the candidates who do not match their essential criteria. Software weeds out unsuitable recruits so a human recruiter does not have to view all their applications – this is great for those employers who receive thousands of submissions every year.

Forms are normally screened by right to work in the UK, amount of UCAS points, degree classification or subject or even by performance on online tests (so it’s important that you practice!). To avoid being sifted out unnecessarily when you meet the criteria required, use the key skills and terms described in the job advert throughout your application and apply them to ensure you apply them to your own examples.

Before you begin

As a general rule, an application pack should be provided to you before you begin your form. This will consist of a job description, personal specification and guidance on how to complete the process. Make sure you read this carefully to check that you fit their essential credentials (for instance, that you possess a degree in the correct topic) and make a note of any important interview or deadlines.

You will need to create an account on their recruitment system, which is often the portal in which you can complete online tests or assessment centres, take part in video interviews, and even receive confirmation on if you have gained the role. It is essential that you use an email account that you use regularly as this is the method in which the firm may contact you.

Before you fill out the form, ensure that you have a copy of your up-to-date CV to hand, along with a list of the essential skills and duties detailed in the job listing in order to refer back to them to the best of your ability. Completing some background research on the company and the industry it is in will provide you with some great commercial awareness that will be sure to impress employers.

Practice your tests

A vast number of graduate application forms will come with their very own tests or exercises. You may be tired of examinations after your years spent at university, however, these are a major part of what will ensure you pass through the next stages of the process and hence, are massively important to your application.

Practice makes perfect – the best way to succeed is by taking as many practice tests as you can stand. An employer may give a few example cases on their website before you complete the form but having a glance around some of the others out there will give you a holistic understanding of what you can expect.

Filling in the form – what do I need?

Your application form should make the employer want to find out more about you and the skills you can contribute to their business – this is your chance to sell yourself and demonstrate your achievements and skills. You will normally be required to attach a CV and cover letter and the form is typically made up of these basic sections:

  • Personal information – this is your basic details, such as your name and email address.
  • Educational background – provide the details on your academic achievements. This can be the institutions you’ve attended, the qualifications you’ve gained and any relevant modules you might have taken.
  • Work experience – this is your relevant employment history. You will have to outline the main duties and responsibilities you held that relate to the role you’re applying for.
  • Competency-based questions – this is an opportunity to provide examples of times when you demonstrate the skills that are essential for the role. Be as precise as possible and don’t waste space with anything that’s irrelevant.
  • Behaviour-based questions – these are based around the behaviours that you would display while at work and will allow employers to work out whether you are the best fit for the role.
  • Personal statement – it is important to write a well-worded, structured and intelligent argument that you are the best fit for the job. Refer back to the job specification and explain how you fit the brief.
  • References – you will be required to give the details of at least two people who can give a good summary of what you are like as a person. These could be either academic references or someone from your previous work experience.

Style guide

Honing your writing style will make your application stand out due to its excellent quality. Employers want confident candidates who are aware of their abilities and can demonstrate their fit for the role with concise examples. Ask a friend, family member or careers adviser to check your application form before you send it off – a different set of eyes may help identify any errors you might not have spotted. Here are some more of our top tips:

  • Make sure your spelling and grammar is correct – this will show your talent for written communication, an important skill in the eyes of most graduate employers.
  • Show an enthusiasm for the role by displaying that you’ve researched the company and industry.
  • Use verbs (such as ‘transformed’, achieved’ and ‘accomplished’) and descriptive words (for instance, ‘adaptable’, ‘dependable’ and ‘responsible’).
  • Focus on only answering the question – don’t provide evidence that isn’t relevant to what the employer is looking for.
  • Tailor your replies to the role. It’s tempting to copy previous answers on past applications, but don’t. An employer will be pleased to see that you’ve spent the time to fill out the form and have thought about the role as it would apply to you.

Applying for jobs

When it comes to actually filling out the application form, there are a few things that you can bear in mind to make the process easier.

Use a desktop!

It may be very tempting to complete an application form while you’re out and about. However, using a laptop or device with a keyboard will make the process much more smooth sailing – you’ll be a lot less likely to accidentally select the wrong option or make a spelling error. After all, one wrong step could be the difference between you and another talented graduate.

Save as you go

On most forms, you’ll have the chance to ‘save as you go’. This means that at every stage you can make sure that none of your work has been lost by saving what you’ve completed so far. Nothing is worse than getting to the end of the form and losing all your hard work, so save yourself some time and click that save button after every step you finish.

Copy and paste (your own words)

Writing your responses to questions directly into the form can be quite tricky. Instead, use a word processor and copy and paste into the browser. You’ll be able to spot spelling mistakes and edit you answers much more easily this way. Nonetheless, be careful. You may need to re-word some of your answers if there is a word count or the formatting may change.

Print, print, print

You may find it useful to print the form before you send it off into the void. This will make it easier for yourself and any friends or technologically-challenged family members you convince to check your work and make sure your spelling and grammar is up to par.

Check the attachments

Before submitting the form, make sure that all necessary documentation, such as a CV, cover letter or transcript, is attached. Without these, an employer may not consider your application. You don’t want to press that button and then realise that you never attached those all-important transcripts.

Save the application

After you’ve told the employers all there is to know about what makes you the best candidate for their vacancy and submitted your application form, remember to make a copy of it and save it. If you’re offered an interview with the company, it’ll be a good idea to refer back to the information you recorded in the form as you’ll likely be asked about this by your interviewer.

After the application

If you’ve ensured that all the contact details on your application form are correct and you have filled out all the sections to the best ability you can, unfortunately all you can do is wait. However, if you are worried that an employer didn’t receive your application at all, it may be worthwhile sending them an email to check. You may go weeks with no response from an employer, or receive no feedback at all, but don’t let this discourage you, there are a huge plethora of other great graduate opportunities that may be perfect for you.

Discover Graduate Opportunities With The Following Companies