A necessary evil in the advertised market.
There are rules to follow in their completion. Do we know the rules? They’re different for each form so we need to follow instructions carefully.
Sometimes the application forms come in a pack of information along with job descriptions, person descriptions, company information, information about competencies expected, unstamped return envelopes, so much paper work you might feel intimidated by it all. Read through everything carefully then isolate the important stuff.
On other occasions the application form might arrive just with a compliments slip, read the form carefully before you start to complete it. There may be instructions somewhere, not always on the first page.
More often nowadays, you might have to download the application form from a web site, or even complete it on-line. Again check the rules carefully before you start.
If you are to complete the application on-line, where possible download or “print screen” the application form blanks so you get an idea of how much you can paste into these areas. Be especially careful if there is a word number limit. Sometimes, once you’ve pasted your text into the frame, you don’t get a chance to edit before submitting it.
Where you’ve downloaded the application form, you may have the option of either posting the completed form back to the recruiter or you may be able to return it by email. Don’t be tempted to extend the size of the page to allow you to add more information, unless there is a specific instruction to do so. The recruiter does not want to be spending more time than necessary reading your application, extending his boxes may provoke his anger.
If you are able to open up the document on your computer and type in your information, do it in “over-type” mode. Normally word processors are set to “insert” mode to allow easy correction of errors. Unfortunately, this means that every time you press the return key, the box you are typing in may extend and you will lose the original size. Over-type mode avoids this problem.
If you can’t open up the file for editing then you have no choice but to resort to pen ink and handwriting. Don’t think you can print your text on sticky paper and physically cut this to the correct size. It looks messy and sticky paper has been known to come unstuck!
So now we get down to the “nitty gritty”.
Who is going to look at your application form?
In the first instance, probably not the hiring manager. The application form will have to get through a number of hoops and barriers where it stands a chance of being weeded out purely because of mistakes and failure to give information in the correct place. So if it says, “Complete in Black Ink and in Block Capitals”, do so. Don’t use blue ink because that’s the only pen you have.
Don’t leave any boxes blank because you have no relative information.
Do fit all the information required within the space given.
Try not to attach extra pages, even if there is an invitation to do so. Attachments, too, have been known to go missing.
Use the space allowed sensibly. Don’t write long paragraphs or sentences. Do use bullet points as you would on a CV.
Don’t tell fibs or claim qualifications which you do not have. Untruths on an application form can get you fired even quite some time after accepting and starting the job.
Before you return the application, whether by email or hard copy, make sure you take a copy of the file or photocopy / scan the document, then keep it safe for future reference.
Finally, if you are sending it by post, make sure you apply the correct postage stamps!