How to fill out a job application form
Job application forms are common when you’re applying for work – especially in graduate schemes. Our guide includes everything you need to know about how to complete them.
If you’re looking for a job as a student or graduate, it’s time to meet your new best friend: application forms. They’re your chance to give employers a good overview of your skills and experience and prove how perfect you are for the job.
But it can be difficult to know exactly what you should and shouldn’t include. It can be quite daunting when you want to impress and stand out from the crowd.
Fear not, though, as we’re here to guide you through what you should cover in the typical sections of a job application form. We’ll even share some extra hints and tips for wowing your potential employer.
What’s included in an application form?
These are the main sections in a job application form, and how to fill them out:
1. Personal information
Entering your personal details is pretty standard for online application forms. How else are they going to contact you to tell you that you got the job? This section will typically cover things like your name, age, gender, home address, and contact details. As with any kind of professional correspondence, stick to a grown-up-sounding email address like email@example.com, and not firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Introductory questions
Some of the online application forms for graduate jobs will start off with a few introductory questions to see if you should carry on, rather than wasting your time and theirs. These questions include things like what grade you achieved at university or what subject you studied. It’s better to know whether you will or won’t be eligible before you spend time filling out the form.
3. Education and qualifications
Nearly all job application forms will ask you to enter some details about your experience and qualifications. If there’s enough space, try to enter a little more information about the modules you studied at uni. Also, mention any specific projects that you feel are relevant to the role in question.
4. Work experience and previous jobs
List your work experience in reverse chronological order, so your most recent roles will appear first on your application. This is standard practice, and it’s arguably the most sensible order. Your most recent job will often be the most relevant to the one you’re applying for.
For each entry, be sure to include the name of the organization that employed you, your job title, and the location. Plus, give an overview of what you did (depending on what they ask for).
When discussing your professional history, remember achievements are more relevant (and impressive) than tasks. So, if you were a waiter in a cafe, it goes without saying that you served food, took payments, and answered customer queries.
5. Skills, abilities, and knowledge
Once the employer has a better idea about your general suitability for the role, they may want to get a better idea of how you’d fit into the company/industry, or how you’d act in more specific situations. This part is the chance to really show off your skills and abilities.
The questions in this section are likely to be about challenging situations or experiences.
An example could be “What would you do if you were writing a proposal and were going to run over the deadline?”
Or another example is “Tell us about a previous time when you displayed leadership.”
6. Personal and professional references
When you’re filling out a job application form, you’ll usually be asked for two references (or ‘referees’). If you’re still at uni or you’re looking for your first graduate job, don’t hesitate to use someone from university. Your personal tutor is usually the most obvious choice.
Always ask for your referees’ permission before giving out their details though. Let them know about your career aspirations and the type of roles that you’re applying for.
Not only is this polite, but it should help them write a better, more relevant reference for you. It’s also a common courtesy to keep them updated about how you get on in the interview, too.
For each reference on your application, include a name, address, telephone number, and email address.