Making applications – it’s not all about CVs!

Here in Careers and Placements we often get questions about CVs – How do I write one? What should I include? Can someone ‘check’ my CV?

It’s natural to think of CVs first when considering applying for jobs (and further study), but for some opportunities and organisations, and at certain times of the year, application forms are the preferred, initial method of application.

When an application form is what’s needed

For big graduate recruiting companies, who receive lots of applications every year, using an online application form is more efficient for them. They can use software to sift through the forms and start the process of shortlisting. Forms also provide some consistency for them – they’re comparing like-for-like, whereas CVs can come in all sorts of layouts and formats.

The same goes for applications for further study. Forms (unlike CVs) can ask specific questions the course provider wants candidates to answer. 

Another reason employers may also favour an application form over a CV, because it can easily be anonymised, making their recruitment process more transparent and open.

Of course, you may find employers and course providers also want a CV, but this is more likely to be back-up information and the application form is still the most important part for them.

The facts about forms

There are a few things you should know before you start completing an application form.

  • Completing a form well is time-consuming – it’s not something you can ‘dash off’ while on the bus or watching TV. Schedule plenty of time for the process 
  • It’s important to read the whole form first before starting to answer – so you can choose the best example for each question and ensure you draw upon a varied range of experiences 
  • In a lot of online application forms you can fill in the form in sections. You can typically save it as you go along, so you don’t have to complete it in all in one go
  • Watch out for maximum word counts. Be prepared to edit your answers and avoid waffling!
  • Proofread every bit of your form and keep a copy of the finished application. You’ll want  to refer to it, if you get through to the next stage of the selection process, and even if you don’t, it’ll still be useful to have a record of your answers to learn from

Find out more

There is lots of information available to help you prepare for completing an application form, as well as tips on how to answer particular questions. Check out the How to complete an application form web page or Applying for further study, if you’re considering a course for after your degree.