So you've found the perfect graduate scheme, you click on 'apply' and then you are taken to a new page which requires you to complete a lengthy job application. Although daunting, you need to have confidence in yourself that you will make a killer application which will guarantee you an interview!
So what are the main things you need to do and consider when completing an application?
1. Take your time and plan
Never rush a job application and try and complete it in a day, this is incredibly stressful and you are likely to have errors in your application. Have a look at the questions asked and plan each day of how you will approach each question leaving you enough time to submit the application before the deadline.
2. Draft your answers first
Write your answers in Microsoft word first and take advantage of spell checker. Read through each answer carefully to ensure you have answered the question to the best of your ability and have met the word count (tip - always meet the word count). Be careful when copying and pasting your answer into the job application as sometimes this can cause formatting issues making the presentation of your answer look messy.
3. Vary your examples
Don't be boring and use the same example for each question. Excite the reader by providing different examples. Think about your experiences in your jobs, university/college, hobbies and extra-curriculum activities. Varying your examples shows that you have had exposure to and have obtained experience and skills in different settings which will give the reader the impression you are well rounded and adaptable.
4. Use action verbs in your answers
Using action verbs throughout your application has greater impact. They are specific, clarify your contributions and increase the scannability of your application. You can find a full list of action verbs to use in your applications here.
5. Identify key words and use them throughout your application
Approximately 50% of mid-sized companies and almost all large corporations use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to view applications. ATS scan key words required for the role before they are even reviewed by a human so it is important to ensure key words are used throughout your application. You can identify key words by looking at the job description. Read our blog here on how to identify key words from a job description.
6. For competency-based questions, use the STAR method
Competency questions require you to provide real life examples of your experience and skills and the best way to present this is by using the STAR technique:
Situation – This situation is describing the event or situation you were in
Task – Explaining the task that you had to complete or the problem you faced
Action – The specific actions you took to complete the task/solve the problem. This is where you emphasise the skills you used and your contribution
Result – Outline the result of your actions. This is the part where you describe the outcome and what was achieved. Always end with how your action added value or minimised the effects of a problem.
We provide help with drafting your application to make the process easier and less stressful for you. You can find more information on our job application service as well as other services here