Job application forms can be tricky to complete wherever you are in your career. Some graduate application forms can be particularly difficult to navigate, especially if you’re not used to filling them out. You need to draw on all aspects of your life – academic, professional and social – to prove your competency and fit for the role and all applicants are starting from the same point. Here are some tips to help you tackle the minefield of application forms, cover letters and personal statements, and help you submit a winning application:

1. Preparation
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – we can’t stress the importance of this. Before you even begin trying to put words to paper, research the company you’re applying to, the role you’re applying for and make sure you are a good fit for that role. Look beyond their website – the more thoroughly you look, the more information you will find.

2. Read the instructions
If your application comes with guidance notes on how to fill it in, read them! They will let you know anything you may need to do above and beyond answer completion, such as psychometric tests. If you need to register in order to submit your application, keep the details to hand. And don’t forget to check the application deadline!

3. Key word research
As well as your company research, be sure to read about the industry and find commonly-used words and phrases. Incorporate these into your answers to show you have a genuine and widely-read interest. But be sure that whatever you say, you’d be happy and able to expand upon in interview.

4. Print off the form
Before you wade in, typing reams of why you’re the best person for the role, print off the application form and look at it in its entirety. You don’t want to front load the form with information and brilliant answers only to have to delete them later for fear of repetition further down the line.

5. Give yourself time
Don’t leave it till an hour before the deadline closes. You will want time to compose answers, check everything and revisit what you’ve written. Don’t add extra stress by having to rush everything through!

6. Careful composition
Really think about each answer and don’t get side-tracked – make sure you are actually answering the question. Weave your research in. Write longer answers in a separate document so you can fine-tune them and then cut and paste into your application. Also remember to remain formal in your language throughout.

7. Consider the questions
What are some of the more obscure questions actually asking? They’re not trying to catch you out, more likely trying to find out about you – how you handle pressure, how you work in a team, how flexible you might be in an unpredictable situation – so supply answers that demonstrate that you meet the criteria.

8. Practice
Writing down and reading out loud are good ways to rehearse your answers. Both can assist in shaping and structuring your words, and reading out loud particularly helps. Also an excellent way to rehearse for the interview stage.

9. Check, check, check
Typos, bad grammar and wrong answers will not see you progress far through an application process. Check everything from your name and contact details to the very last answer – be sure you have answered the questions properly, haven’t repeated yourself and haven’t omitted anything. Allow enough time to check it on a different day when you’re fresh, and if you can find someone keen to help, let them read through it too.

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10. Print a copy
Before hitting the submit button, print out a copy. It’s another checking step and you can see what your answers look like on the page. It’s also really useful if you get called for interview to have a copy of your application with you.

It can be incredibly frustrating and hard to be objective about you and your achievements, while still selling yourself, so why not employ the professional writing skills of City CV? We work with graduates across all industries and have helped countless through the application process to successfully land jobs. We can help with graduate cover letters and specific graduate application forms alongside our graduate CV writing service. Call today for more information on +44 20 7100 6656 or email enquiries@citycv.co.uk

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