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Guide to completing a top tech job application
Many large companies use application forms as part of their recruitment process so they can compare applicants on a like-for-like basis and whittle down their ideal candidates quicker. The challenge for you as an applicant, is how to make your application form stand out.
Read on for some pointers on how to successfully complete a job application form.
Before you start
A lot of the success of your application is down to your preparation. Firstly, read up on the application process so you know what is expected and how much time you have to submit it. You may have saved a job on a job board to apply to later and whilst you may have noted the deadline at the time, it’s worth double checking the application closing date in case it has changed.
Is it an online process? If so, is there a time limit and can you save as you go along or do you have to fill it out in a single session? Is it a form you download and fill in offline? If so, check if they have specific a particular pen colour or format like block capitals. If in doubt, use black ink as this shows up better when scanned or photocopied so will make your application easier to read.
Prepping your answers
Regardless of the application type, if possible, it is best to prepare your answers on a separate document rather than typing or writing directly into the form. This could help you avoid repetition between answers to different sections and grammatical and spelling errors. It may also help you to keep track of your word count for each answer, which might be specified in the instructions.
The first few sections within the application form are likely to ask you for details of your education and an account of your employment history. As education levels and qualifications differ between countries, it’s good to state the equivalent level or qualification in the country in which the role is based. As for your employment history, it is important to explain any gaps – otherwise, the employer may well stop reading.
Generally though it is the latter sections which require a bit more thought as they give you a chance to really sell your skills and give the employer a better impression of what you will bring to the role. To prepare for answering the more competency-based sections, a good place to start is re-reading the job description. Highlight the key responsibilities and make a note of the skills you think the employer is looking for in someone to perform in the role effectively. These notes can then steer your answers to make sure you clearly demonstrate how you’re a good fit for the role. Be sure to back up your answers with relevant examples of why and how you did something, rather than just saying what you did. You may find it useful to use the STAR method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result:
- Situation: Explain the situation you were in
- Task: Briefly describe what you had to do, even if it was part of a wider group effort
- Action: This is the main part of your answer where you should say what you did, why, how and the skills you used to get it done.
- Result: So how did your efforts pay off? Describe the outcome and if you would do anything differently to approach the task and situation in the future.
Your answers will be most effective if they are clear, honest and relevant to the question and the job you are applying for. Explain everything fully and don’t assume that the employer will have a copy of your CV. Your application form should stand on its own merits.
Stop before you submit
Filling out an application form can be a tiring and time-intensive activity so before you submit it, spend a bit more time thoroughly checking it through to give yourself the best chance of application success.
Here’s a handy checklist of things to do before you press send:
- Review all of your answers and check your spelling and grammar is correct – not all mistakes will be picked up by a spell checking programme so read each line to check your word choice is right for the context; saying ‘I’m a great analyse’ rather than ‘analyst’ won’t help your cause.
- Ask someone else to read through your application to see if they spot any mistakes or anything that isn’t clear
- Check if your answers are formatted correctly and are easy to read – for an online application, consider the font, spacing and layout
- Ensure you’ve provided the correct contact details for the employer to get hold of you on
- Make sure you’re sending the application to the right person (if specified). Does any supporting documentation need to be submitted alongside it?
- Lastly, save, scan or print a copy of your application for future reference.
For more advice on applying for jobs, interviews and progressing your career, please visit our career advice pages.
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