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1 Applicatin Frms Applicatin Frms Applicatin frms are used as a way f selecting between applicants. Sme jbs can be extremely cmpetitive, with sme graduate training schemes attracting thusands f applicatins fr ne place. Even retail and administrative jbs can attract hundreds f applicants per place. Applicatin frms give emplyers a gd way f cmparing candidates quickly and easily. It is therefre really imprtant that yu allcate enugh time t cmpleting yur frm t give yu the best pssible chance. As a guide yu shuld start yur applicatin frm at least ne week befre the deadline fr the jb. Yu will then have a chance t draft and redraft yur frm and get feedback frm ther peple. Applicatin frms may be nline r paper-based. The Essentials: Matching the Jb If an emplyer is using an applicatin frm this nrmally indicates that they are taking a systematic apprach t recruitment measuring all applicants against certain standard criteria. In rder t give yurself the best chance yu must address each ne f the criteria they are lking fr. T help yu, mst jbs with applicatin frms make the criteria they measure against explicit, this is either by: 1. Using a series f cmpetency based questins: the frm will cntain a series f specific questins asking yu fr examples f particular skills r experiences. 2. Including a space fr a persnal statement (r supprting statement) and prviding yu with a jb descriptin and a persn specificatin which act as guide fr what t include in the statement. In additin sme applicatin frms include multiple chice questins abut yur likes and dislikes. Here emplyers are using a frm f persnality prfiling t test if yu wuld fit the rganisatin. Hwever unlike persnal statements and cmpetency statements in these circumstances the best apprach is nt

2 t try and secnd-guess what the right answer is (there ften isn t ne), especially as cnsistency in yur answers is imprtant. The next sectins f this advice sheet will lk at: General tips and advice n applicatin frms Advice n hw t answer cmpetency based questins and Advice n hw t cmplete a persnal statement The Essentials: General Tips If yu are applying with a paper-based frm, make a phtcpy r cpies t practice n. Read the instructins carefully these will ften tell yu the basics like where t use blck capitals, what clur ink t use, and whether CVs are accepted. If yu dn t fllw these basic instructins the emplyer may nt even read yur frm. Prf read r spellcheck yur frm. Basic mistakes will ften mean yur frm is discarded (especially if yu spell the rganisatin s name r the jb title incrrectly!) Where there is a qualificatins sectin, make sure yu list all yur qualificatins. If yu are currently studying fr a qualificatin yu can still list it but write due fr cmpletin in. in place f the cmpletin date. Yu shuld include qualificatins back t standard grades, O grades r GCSEs r equivalent. If space is tight yu may need t summarise sme f yur qualificatins, fr example eight standard grades at grades 1-3. Where yu are asked t list wrk experience yu shuld list all yur jbs since schl r at least all yur jbs fr the last ten years. Yu may summarise sectins f yur wrk experience (especially if these were sme years ag r included lts f lw level jbs), fr example Varius shrt term and temprary cntracts in the hspitality industry Make sure that yu have a cmplete wrk r study histry that cvers at least the last ten years. If yu had a break fr whatever reasn then mark this in yur emplyment histry but try t wrd this in a psitive way Career break t raise children r Gap year spent travelling in Australia If yu are asked fr references, check if there are any guidelines as t wh the emplyer wants as a referee (ften ne f them will need t be yur mst recent r current emplyer). If yu have a chice f referee cnsider wh is likely t give yu the best reference, and als what kind f referee might be particularly relevant t this emplyer fr example if yu re applying fr a child care jb and tw years ag yu had a jb as a childcare assistant yu might ask that emplyer if they wuld be a reference. Make sure yur referees knw that yu have put their names n the frm and are happy t give a reference. Applicatin frms 23/8/12 2

3 Answering Cmpetency Questins Cmpetency questins ask yu t describe examples f when yu have demnstrated particular skills r attributes, fr example: Describe a situatin where yu demnstrated leadership and management skills in rder t lead a team t a successful utcme. Yu will typically have a series f questins and there may be a wrd limit fr each answer. Smetimes emplyers will nt give yu specific questins but will give yu a series f bxes each with the heading f a different skill r attribute, fr example: effective cmmunicatin skills apprpriate custmer service experience, and then ask yu t use the space t explain hw yu meet each criteria. Sme Pinters: Make sure yu address the criterin: this may seem bvius, but carefully read the questin t ensure yu understand what yu are being asked befre yu try and think f an example. In particular: Make sure yu take accunt f all aspects f the questin. S, fr example: Describe a situatin where yu demnstrated leadership and management skills in rder t lead a team t a successful utcme this questin asks yu t think f an example that des tw things: demnstrates leadership and management and links this t a successful utcme. Yu must think f an example which des bth. Where yu are just given the name f a skill eg cmmunicatin skills try t think bradly and incrprate all aspects f this skill, fr example, written cmmunicatin, verbal cmmunicatin, presentatins etc. If yu are unsure what a criterin means try putting yurself in the emplyers shes, eg fr a jb as a sales manager, what kind f cmmunicatin skills is the emplyer likely t want? Chse yur examples carefully: make sure yur examples demnstrate yur skills mst clearly and in a way that is relevant t the jb: Yu can select examples frm wrk, vluntary wrk, study r yur persnal life, whatever is mst relevant. Try t select a gd range f examples rather than using the same example fr every cmpetency. Chse examples where the utcme was psitive Chse specific examples what the questins are nt asking yu t d is t make a general statement like I am cnfident and able t lead all manner f teams t a psitive utcme. Rather yur answers shuld refer t specific things such as During my experience as an utdrs instructr I was respnsible fr leading small grups f children n utdrs expeditins. In rder t d this I. (planned / develped / designed / cmmunicated) Use the STAR apprach t describing an example (see exercise belw). Overall: keep yur writing clear and cncise. Shw hw yu thught things thrugh, and (if apprpriate) hw yu reflected n the utcme and anything yu wuld d differently in the future. Keep psitive! Applicatin frms 23/8/12 3

4 Exercise 1: The STAR apprach The STAR apprach is a way f describing experience cncisely and effectively. It is particularly useful when filling in applicatin frms and preparing fr interviews. T get started, think f a time when yu did smething well, r smething that yu re prud f (this culd be frm wrk, study r anther area f yur life). Write a sentence r tw n each f these areas: Result Situatin Actin Task Situatin: describe the situatin, that is what yu were ding, where yu were wrking, wh yu were with. Task: describe the nature f the task yu faced, what was the prblem r challenge yu had t vercme Actins: describe the actins yu tk t undertake the task. When describing yur actins, it is imprtant t make sure that yu describe actins yu tk, nt a whle team. S rather than saying smething like the team wrked tgether t develp an annual plan fr the ffice yu shuld say smething like I led my team in the develpment f an annual plan by. Yu shuld als make sure that yu prperly address the skills yu are demnstrating. S, althugh yu may be demnstrating ne main skill (eg management) the trick is t take the main skill and break it dwn int ther elements, skills r actins, t shw that yu knw what the main skill actually invlves. S, if yu are demnstrating leadership skills by talking abut develping an annual team plan, yu culd say hw yu demnstrated leadership by cnsulting with yur team t develp a prject plan and then cmmunicated this plan t all members f the team. Result: describe the utcme f yur actins e.g. sales increased by ten percent, staff respnded well and we held weekly meetings, the children gave excellent feedback n my presentatin Applicatin frms 23/8/12 4

5 Writing a supprting statement Sme applicatin frms use supprting statements rather than cmpetency based questins. Supprting statements are smetimes called persnal statements r case fr emplyment r smething similar. Typically applicants are given up t a side f A4 t explain why they are suitable fr the jb, with the ptin t attach further sheets if necessary. Sme pinters: Start with a sentence that explains why yu want the jb and summarising yur skills and experience that make yu perfect fr the jb. Then break int a series f paragraphs that describe yur skills, qualities and experiences frm wrk, vluntary jbs and educatinal backgrund that make yu perfect fr the jb. Decide n the tpics f these paragraphs by using the persn specificatin fr the jb. The persn specificatin lists the skills, qualities and experience that are essential and desirable t the jb. Yu must make sure that yur statement demnstrates every essential criteria and as many desirable criteria as pssible. Sme tips are: Be explicit and dn t assume that an emplyer will be able t guess what yu are gd at. If the persn specificatin asks fr: experience in a retail rle with a gd understanding f custmer service and an ability t deal with cmplaints, then it is nt enugh just t write I am currently wrking as a retail assistant yu must give mre details including giving cncrete examples f yur custmer service and cmplainthandling skills, such as my wrk invlved frequent duties at the custmer service desk where I was respnsible fr handling all nature f custmer enquiries and dealing prfessinally with cmplaints. If yu have specific examples then these can help e.g. I prided myself n prviding an excellent service and n ne ccasin my bss cmplimented me n my prfessinal handling f a very difficult custmer cmplaint. Make sure every criteria is included including the bvius nes. S, fr example, d nt assume that because yu have an HNC, HND r Degree that the emplyer will knw yu have gd cmmunicatin skills tell them abut yur cmmunicatin skills, what kind f skills yu have (written r verbal cmmunicatins, reprt writing, essay writing, presentatin) and examples f things yu have dne n yur curse (r elsewhere). As well as the persn specificatin, yu may als want t refer t the jb descriptin. Yur statement has t reference everything in the persn specificatin, but anything yu can refer t frm the jb descriptin will allw yur statement t stand ut. Often where the specificatin describes the skills yu need, the jb descriptin will describe the cntext in which yu wuld need t use this skill. S, a gd way t use the jb descriptin is t refer t it when yu are trying t think f examples f the skills in the persn specificatin. If yu can think f times when yu have dne similar things t thse described in the jb descriptin, these ccasins are als likely t nes where yu have demnstrated relevant skills. Applicatin frms 23/8/12 5

6 Aim t fill the space prvided. Althugh yu can ften add additinal sheets it is nrmally a gd idea t try and avid this if pssible. If yu d add an additinal sheet keep the additinal cntent shrt. Keep the tne clear, cncise, psitive and prfessinal. It is essential that yu cver all the criteria in the persn specificatin. Once yu have written a first draft, g back thrugh yur statement, pretend yu are the emplyer and tick ff the criteria as yu find them in yur statement. Anything that isn t clear enugh, g back and revise. End with a summary statement that expresses yur wish fr the emplyer t cnsider yur applicatin, r that reiterates why yu want the jb and why yu feel yu wuld be gd at the jb. Further Help and Resurces Infrmatin n Applicatin frms: The UHI Career Centre website: The Prspects website fr infrmatin abut graduate CVs: UHI Applicatin Frm feedback service Any UHI Student can access this service. Send a cpy f the jb descriptin, persn specificatin and applicatin frm t a careers adviser n fr feedback and tips. One t ne advice Any UHI Student can speak t the UHI Careers Adviser t discuss jb applicatins r ther aspects f career chice r jb search. Students can the careers adviser r request a telephne call frm her via the website: Applicatin frms 23/8/12 6

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