Once you have decided which approach to apply to your job search (Recruitment Agencies and LinkedIn/ job boards, direct applications or a blended approach), you will face the next hurdle: the application form.
Until the internet took over, a job application was made by requesting an application pack from the organisation, filling in the forms and then sending or faxing them to the return address. Or simply sending in a cv. This process later evolved into online applications.
The first generation of online application forms involved downloading a form (in Microsoft Word format), completing it and either uploading it to the relevant online page or emailing it to a specified address. While it was a much smoother process than the manual one it replaced, it wasn’t without its problems. I personally lost count of the amount of times my computer crashed or internet connection dropped out at the wrong time, causing the completed form to be lost or become corrupted and unreadable. Thankfully technology moved ahead, with computers and internet connections improving greatly thus making the process easier. As for the information which the form requires, it hasn’t changed much. Neither has the order changed much. You will be asked for;
- Personal information
- Current and previous employment
- Personal statement
- Disclaimers to be signed.
Of these, the personal statement is the most interesting and the most challenging. The only guidance given is to ensure that you address the role’s requirements, as highlighted in the person specification. So, you have to write about yourself and how you meet the role’s requirements in a way which is engaging and interesting enough to earn you an interview. Easier said than done, and my problem was that I tended to write a few paragraphs which looked good but didn’t really address the person specification. This would then be copied and pasted into most of my applications, and I would wonder why I didn’t get shortlisted for interviews. Go figure!
While this is still a very popular, and widely used approach, the process is again evolving. Increasingly, organisations are launching their own recruitment portals online, where you can search for current vacancies and apply for them. The job vacancies section is divided into two areas; one for internal applicants who already work for the organisation but are looking for a new role, and the other for external applicants.
Rather than asking you to fill out a form, these portals ask for the same information as above, usually in the same order too, which you complete on several pages which you can return to later and update if necessary. Filling in these sections is easy, and can even be copied and pasted from saved application forms. It’s not cheating, as your personal information, educational background and career history is unlikely to have changed.
The one section which does present a challenge is the new and improved personal statement. This is now broken down into a number of questions (usually 10-15) in which you address the key requirements of the role. Frustrating as it may be that you don’t get to cut and paste one statement across all applications any longer, this approach is far more effective.
In asking you to reflect on individual questions, recruiters will gain a clearer idea of whether you should be shortlisted for interview. Should you be interviewed, you will find yourself with a better understanding of the role and able to communicate how you would be a good fit. This is well worth the extra time required to answer those questions in the first place.
The best part of the new online application process is that after you fit out your first application, all the information copies across to further applications, with the exception of the personal statement.
As with all things over time, the application form has developed and is now being slowly replaced by an online application process. Embrace it! It does require more time and effort to complete, but its worth it. Put in the time and effort which the form requires and you’ll be in a good position to be shortlisted for interview. If you do get shortlisted, the questions you addressed during the application will stand you in good stead.
Than you for reading. I hope you have found in here something useful and of value to you in your job search. In the next post, I will be taking you through the interview itself and the kind of questions that you might encounter