Completing Application Forms
The Art of Employment Applications
Make sure your answers highlight
your fit with the position
Standardised application forms ask the same questions of multiple candidates, making it easier for employers to compare applicants.
Generally designed to be filled out and submitted on corporate websites, employment applications request background information such as contact information, education, career history, professional honours and employment references. Job applications also ask why you are applying, why you think you are right for the role, and why you left previous positions.
When completing application forms, strike a positive, confident note. Answer questions in a way that highlights your fit with the open position. Take your time and type carefully. Avoid referring to any career mishaps in your past.
- Thoroughly familiarise yourself with the job description and do research on the company before beginning the application.
- If the software allows, read the complete application form. If you can only move forward one page at a time, read each page from top to bottom before you start. This will help you put the right information in the right place, and in the case of narrative answers, prevent you from repeating yourself.
- All employment applications require brief factual answers as well as narrative answers. It is wise to compose a draft of each narrative answer to get it just right before pasting it into the job application.
- Describe yourself in a way that reflects the needs of the employer. When possible, give actions and quantifiable results, as opposed to lists of responsibilities.
- Use phrases that correspond with key words in the job description.
- Convey your knowledge of the industry and the organisation.
- Answer all the questions on the form; omissions may automatically rule you out.
- Make sure answers on the application form tally with information on your resume, CV and cover letter.
- Briefly note gaps in your career history (time out for study, family care, travel, etc.)
Guidelines and Tips
- Ask your professional references for permission to use them. If possible, let your references know beforehand when they might be called.
- Have someone look over your draft answers before finalising them.
- Print a copy of the application form before you submit the final draft.
- Most applications for employment allow you to paste in or upload a covering letter. For tips on a great covering letter, click here.