Job application forms and letters

Many employers ask you to complete an application form to ensure they get the information they need and also so they can compare applicants more easily. Sometimes a small company which doesn't have a printed application form will ask you to write a letter of application instead.

Paper application forms

Planning is important. Here are some tips on filling in application forms:

  • prepare a draft of the application form and then transfer the information to the actual form
  • always check the instructions, whether you have to write in capitals or fill in the form in black ink only
  • spell the name of the company correctly
  • answer all questions and fill in all the boxes putting in N/A if not applicable
  • if there are gaps in your education and employment history state what you were doing during that time - for example, bringing up your children or voluntary work
  • include skills that you have developed outside school/work
  • read over the job advert again and make sure the information you include on your application is relevant
  • check spelling and grammar before you send it

Online application forms

If the form is online it may be a good idea to draft it offline first. This way you'll be able to run a spell check before you copy the information into the online form. It also means you'll have a back-up if there's a problem.

Many sites allow you to store your application form online, which will let you review or edit it if required. If you need a username or password to access the site it is important to record these in a safe place for future reference.

You may be allowed to use the same form for multiple job applications. If this is the case you should update each form with the skills/ experience relevant to that specific job.

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.

Letters of application - what to include

The aim of your letter is to get an interview so if you have to write a letter of application remember the following points:

  • give full details about yourself, including education details (start and end dates), all qualifications, employment history (full and part-time), relevant activities, interests and skills
  • state the job you are applying for and where you saw the advert
  • give your reasons for applying for the job
  • give the reference number if stated
  • type your letter or write neatly and clearly, don't use long words if short ones will do
  • check your spelling and grammar
  • if you start your letter 'Dear Sir' or 'Dear Madam' then end your letter with 'Yours faithfully'
  • if you start with someone's name then end with 'Yours sincerely'
  • sign your letter clearly and print your name underneath
  • if you include the names of referees, ensure you have their permission
  • if replying to an advertisement address your letter to the person mentioned in the ad

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