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Top five things you should do (and not do) on a job application



If you’re searching for a job this summer, it’s inevitable that you’ll be faced with a job application form. If you’ve completed a couple of these already, you’ll know how repetitive and time consuming they can be – which can lead to errors that could be costing you an interview. To help you avoid the mistakes and secure an interview, we asked our expert career advisers for the top five things you should do (and not do) when filling out an application form. 

Top five things you should do:

1. Research the company 

You’ve probably heard this many times before, but it’s crucial to research the company you’re applying to. Knowing the values and priorities of the company will show the employer that you understand what they’re trying to achieve, but it will also give you a sense of whether or not you’re right for the role. 

2. Read and answer each question carefully

If you’ve been asked to write about your experience of working in a team and you start talking about how your Russian literature course made you choose this role, you’ve completed missed the point of the question. Make sure you fully understand what is being asked before you start writing your response – the more time you spend constructing your answers, the more concise and appropriate they will be. 

3. Keep it short and sweet

Make sure you try and limit how much you write for each answer. Not only will it make it easier on the reader, it will also demonstrate your ability to condense a lot of information into a small space – a key skill that employers value. 

4. Give yourself time

Starting the application early gives you the maximum amount of time to think about and create the perfect answers. This is your opportunity to sell yourself, so put your best self forward!

5. Enthusiasm!

You may think that the best approach for a job application is to keep your answers as formal as possible. The chances are everyone else will be doing the same. You shouldn’t be afraid to show your personality – for example, if you’re an upbeat person keep your answers upbeat. Not only will it show the employer who you are on a more personal level, it will also make you stand out in a good way. 

Top five things you should avoid:

1. Copying and pasting your answers from a previous application 

Although you may have answered the question 20 times before, copying and pasting should never be an option. You run the risk of accidently mentioning a different company or role. Even if you do end up saying the same things, writing your answers again will make you better at communicating your experiences, something that will help you if you’re invited to interview. 

2. Embellishing the truth

If you don’t have any experience within the field you’re applying to, be honest! If you exaggerate and make it to the interview stage, you’re likely to get caught out. Don’t forget that experience doesn’t just have to come from paid work – you can also include examples from your course, volunteering or even from a university society if it’s relevant. 

3. Forgetting to proof read

Don’t forget to proof read your application – it will help you avoid any silly mistakes that a spell checker may not pick up. Don’t let something as small as grammar mistakes hinder your prospects! 

4. Sending your application from the wrong email account 

Make sure you use a professional email address to send out applications. The best ones are comprised simply of your name, such as ‘lucy.smith@...’ Always double check which account you’re sending applications from – you don’t want to accidently send it from a personal account you created when it was cooler to use a nickname such as ‘juicylucy@...’!

5. Leaving it to the last minute 

Even if you have all of the required experience, if you send an employer an obviously rushed application then you’re sending a negative impression of yourself. Leaving things to the last minute means you risk repeating yourself, making spelling errors or going off topic. If you think you’ve got what it takes to get the job, give yourself the best chance by taking the time to complete the application form properly. 

Posted on Tuesday 22nd August 2017

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