Q: Can you give me some tips for completing a complex job application form, especially for someone who hasn’t done one in a while? That’s the boat I find myself in now. I’m at a loss wondering how I can complete all the sections without boring them – or, indeed, me – to death. (KL, email).
A: Completing job application forms can be an onerous task, especially if you’re applying for a position you really want. It’s important to take the time to carefully fill out the form and make a good opening impression on the hiring manager. Here are some key tips to keep in mind as you complete your application.
- First and foremost, follow all guidelines and instructions. This includes paying attention to word count limits and following any specific pointers or methods the employer has requested, such as deploying the STAR (Situation – Task – Action – Result) method for answering questions. Failing to follow these guidelines can make you appear careless or disorganised, and that’s not a good look.
- Be as concise as possible. Hiring managers generally have a lot of applications to review, and they may not have the time or patience to wade through long, rambling responses. Keep your answers focused and to the point and avoid repeating information or going off on tangents. That’s okay in the bar room or the coffee shop, but not great in an application or an interview.
- One way to ensure your responses are clear and concise is to use the aforementioned STAR method, even if they haven’t specifically asked you to do so. This involves framing your answer around a specific Situation or Task, the Actions you took, and the Results of those actions. By using this structure, you give yourself a good chance of effectively communicating your skills and experience in a clear and organised way.
- Another way to keep your responses concise is to use bullet points or numbered lists. This can help you break down your answer into more easily digestible chunks, and it can also make your application more visually appealing to the hiring manager.
- Pay attention to every single detail. This includes making sure all of your contact information is correct, proofreading your responses for spelling and grammar errors, and double-checking that you’ve answered all of the questions. Even small mistakes, such as a typo in your email address, can make a negative impression on the hiring manager.
- Tailor your application to the job and company. Research the company and the position you are applying for, and tailor your responses to show how your skills and experience align with the requirements of the role. Use specific examples and keywords from the job description to demonstrate your suitability for the position.
- Show enthusiasm and interest in the role and the company. Hiring managers are looking for candidates who are genuinely interested in the role and the company, so make sure to express your enthusiasm and excitement in your application. This will help you stand out from other candidates.
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