Application Forms and Cover Letters

Application Forms

For those companies that require you to complete an application form there are a few things that you need to remember:

  • Check your spelling and grammar.
  • Do not leave blank sections.
  • Use blue or black ink (if the application asks for black only use black!).
  • If your writing is not very tidy then use a computer unless it says it must be handwritten.
  • Do not send a CV unless the application asks you too.
  • Do send a covering letter.

Employers may prefer you to fill in an application form rather than send a CV, particularly for public sector jobs. Forms are easier to compare because, unlike CVs, they follow the identical format.

Online Application Form

If the form is online, draft your application offline first – in a word processing package like Word – and save it to your computer.  This way you’ll be able to run a spell check before you copy the information into the online system.  It also means you’ll have a back-up if there’s a problem with the form.  More and more sites offer the option of storing your application online and coming back to it.  If you do this in more than one sitting, keep a record of any usernames and passwords so that you can get back in.

Online forms can be longer and more complicated than paper forms – follow the instructions carefully and check how many screens you have to fill in before you can submit your application.  Some employers will ask for a personal statement.

If necessary, copy all the questions into an offline document – that way there’s no danger of submitting an incomplete application.

Paper Application Forms

If you’re filling in a form by hand, write as neatly as you can in black ink. Use block capital letters if the form asks you to!  A good way to avoid mistakes and crossings-out on the final form is to photocopy the original and practise filling in this copy first.  Take care of the original form – don’t spill anything on it or leave it in your bag to get creased!

Covering Letters

It should be tailored for the job you’re applying for. Look at the job advert or the person specification and think about what the job involves, and what the employer is asking for.

As with your CV try to apply your cover letter to the role that you are applying for by highlighting the skills you have that are relevant to the job.  There is an example of a good covering letter below.