Ah, the dreaded job application form. For some reason, filling out one of these bad boys is a little bit more intimidating than submitting your standard CV and cover letter. Perhaps it’s because you’re faced with countless (we say countless, we mean about five) pages that contain boxes and boxes that expect your response to competency based questions. Perhaps it’s because there are company logos and terms and conditions dotted around every single page.
Calm down! Job application forms are simply an alternative method of assessing whether you’re ideal for the job. We’ll break down a typical job application form and explain how each section is similar to what you would put in a CV or cover letter.
For obvious reasons, your personal details don’t change depending on what method an employer uses for their job applications. With a job application form, you’ll simply have to fill them out in boxes rather than having it displayed at the top of a cover letter or in a fancy format on your CV.
Education & Previous Employment
Similarly, the details of your education and previous employment remains the same also. However, whereas on a CV and cover letter you can choose what information you provide, an application form may require some information you may not have normally included. For example, your potential employer-to-be may be a bit nosey and ask what your salary was upon leaving your previous position.
Alternatively, they may ask for the name, work address and contact number for your manager or former tutor, in order to contact them for a reference. This is all information that you would include on your CV too, the company are just asking for it in a different format.
Skills & Competency Based Questions
This is usually the section of the job application form that most people panic about. Okay, deep breaths, it’s going to be fine.
Employers use this section to find out whether you have the skills necessary to succeed at the job. Funnily enough, this is precisely what they use cover letters for too. You simply need to adapt what you would usually write in your cover letter. For example, if you wrote in a cover letter that your group seminars and part-time job in the local coffee shop has allowed you to develop your teamwork, communication and customer service skills. If you were asked in a job application form how you think you would succeed in this role, you would mention those skills and how you have been able to transfer those skills to a range of tasks.
Alternatively, you may be provided with a white blank page that asks you to provide information that will support your application. You should treat this like a cover letter, but without the ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ or ‘Yours faithfully’.
And there we have it! Every job application form is different and this has highlighted general sections that you should be aware of when you complete a form. Remember, you have all the information, it’s just a different way of using it.