Managing job applications

In a recent blog, we talked about the pressures of having many career options and how to handle them. This time, we’re turning the spotlight on managing the application process.

Making a good application – whether it’s for an internship, placement year or graduate job – can be a time-consuming challenge. Plus, it’s likely that you have several applications on the go at the same time.

Approach an application form, like you would an essay or report – research, write, check.

  1. Do your research

Before you even start writing your application, research the company and the role you’re applying for. Employers won’t expect you to be an expert in every aspect of the organisation, but they will expect you to know a bit about what they do.

Start with the company’s website (and the graduate recruitment section, if applicable). Make notes of key points about the company’s work.

Consider the job’s requirements – what skills and experience is the employer asking for? It’s a good idea to keep a note of examples from your own experience that demonstrate those skills. 

Remember, those examples don’t have to be just from work experience – they can be from your studies, extra-curricular activities, and other achievements. If you can vary the examples and settings you draw upon, it can show you to be a well-rounded person, who’s been involved in a variety of experiences.

Top tip: pick up some extra nuggets of information through the company’s Twitter or other social media accounts (if they have them). They can often give an insight into the employer that you may not get from their website.

  1. Completing the form

Application forms can take a lot longer to complete than you might think, so start as soon as you can and block out some set time in your schedule for the task.

A lot of online forms don’t need to be completed in one sitting – there’s usually the opportunity to save your work as you progress through it. 

However, it’s probably best not to just start typing straight on the online form. Copy the application questions and start answering them in a google or Word doc or jot down some bullet points of what you want to include in your answer. 

That way you can edit more easily and compare the examples you give in each question and swap them around to make them more appropriate. You can also ensure you keep to the word count (if one applies).

Don’t ramble! Keep your answers clear and concise. Structure your answers by using a model such as CAR (context, action, result), as this can help you include the pertinent details and keep to the point. There’s more information about this and more on our application form web page.

Proofread and check your application form (several times!) before you submit it. It’s useful to get someone else to read through it too – they spot a typo hiding there. Also, it’s a good test of whether what you’ve written makes sense to someone else! 

Top tip: be extra careful if you copy and paste parts of your answers from other job application forms. It can be easy to include something that doesn’t apply or mentions another company’s name! 

  1. Record and file

Keep a copy of your application form and the job description. These actions are important for a few reasons:

  • If anything goes wrong with the online system or your application submission, you won’t have to start again from scratch
  • If you are invited to interview (or the next stage of the recruitment process) you’ll need to recap on what the job entails and what you wrote in your application 
  • The job advert might be taken down from the company website once the closing date has passed, so they’ll be access to it

Top tip: have a separate folder for each job you apply for. It’s easier to keep track of which jobs are which, particularly if you’ve got a few in the pipeline at the same time.

There’s more information about how to answer application form questions on our web page, but if you have any questions or need advice, message the Careers Information Team via Handshake.

Good luck with your applications!