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Filling Out Application Forms Correctly and Effectively


Application forms can be complex and time-consuming, but they don’t have to cost you your chance of an interview. Ultimate Job Search Author Lynn Williams outlines the reasons for application forms and how you can complete one effectively without making mistakes or leaving out useful information.

Some organizations prefer to use a standard application form rather than receive CVs. There are several reasons for this:

  • The standard format allows quick screening.
  • It’s easier to see if candidates have key requirements.
  • Inconsistencies and omissions show up.
  • Only serious applicants go to the trouble of completing them; it’s easier to send a CV than to sit down and fill out a lengthy form.

Some also believe that application forms are fairer, not favouring people who simply write a good CV.

Take the time to complete any application form properly. Use your CV for information and inspiration.

Before you start:

  • Read the application form through and note any instructions such as ‘list most recent jobs first’ or ‘use block capitals.’
  • If the form is on paper, take a photocopy to fill out, correct and amend first.
  • Complete online forms offline- where possible- copy and paste into Word so you can check spelling and grammar, get someone else to proof-read it, and so on. Saving what you’ve done offline also means that it’s there for you to use again whenever you need to.
  • If you are completing the form online (some sites don’t allow you to cut and paste), make use of any facility to save the form and return to it in your own time so that you don’t feel pressured to fill it all in at once.
  • Application forms are often sent out with an information pack, so have the job description, your CV and any other information to hand.
  • Fill in every section, don’t leave space. If something is not relevant to you, put ‘not applicable’ in that box.
  • If you continue onto a separate sheet of paper, put your name and address at the top, along with the job you are applying for and any reference number in case it gets detached.
  • Never put ‘see attached CV.’ The purpose of application forms is to standardize information, so asking the employer to read your CV is pointless.
  • Take a copy of your finished form to refer to when you are called for interview.

Application forms section by section

Most forms have the following sections:

  • Personal details
  • Educational details
  • Employment record
  • Job requirements
  • Personal statement
  • References
  • Declaration

Personal details

This asks for your name, address and contact details. It can also ask for:

  • Details of your driving licence
  • Whether you require a work permit
  • Whether you have any criminal convictions
  • Details of your leisure interests.

Think about how to express these achievements, not only in your CV and covering letter, but in your answers to interview questions when they come up. Ultimate Job Search is out on July 3rd 2015, and available to pre-order now. You can order Ultimate Job Search at a 25% discount when you enter the code UJS225 at checkout on