1 Applying for a Job

Applying for a Job
Unit 6: Applying for a Job
Unit abstract
The various methods of applying for a job differ in their
requirements and the type of information requested of the
The focus of this unit is for learners to:• understand how to apply for a range of job vacancies but they
will only need to actually apply for one job to achieve the unit.
• Learners will gain an understanding of how and when
different types of methods are used for applying for
• They will find out how to gather the relevant information to
support a job application and will also look at the importance
of presenting job application information in an appropriate
and accurate way.
Understand different methods of
applying for jobs
Different methods of applying:
• different formats for applications e.g. application
forms, CVs, covering letters, applications via a
website, applying in person; method of applying
may be linked to the type of job e.g. requirement
to provide covering letter may suggest job role
requires good communication or written skills,
use of online application form may suggest job
role requires basic computer skills
Be able to complete a job
application form
Requirements for job application:
• different types of information needed for a job
application e.g. personal details, skills, previous
work experience, education and training;
knowing which items of personal information to
include and what to leave out e.g. age, gender,
address, telephone number; knowing whether
you are eligible to work in the country legally;
recognising that certain items of information fit
certain parts of the job application form; using
templates and examples as a guideline
Be able to apply for a job using
the appropriate method
Apply for a job using an appropriate
• including only relevant and appropriate
information; following accepted guidelines
for the format and content of a CV,
following accepted guidelines for the
format and content of a covering letter
How to successfully complete
application forms
Before you start - some do's and
• DO research the company, the
career area and the actual job for
which you are applying. Make sure
you can offer the qualifications,
experience and personal skills that
the employer is seeking
• DO make sure you are using the
right form - some employers have
different forms for different job
functions. DON'T use a Standard
Application Form or CV where the
employer specifies that you should
use their own application form.
How to successfully complete
application forms
- more do's and don'ts
• DON'T start to write on the form
itself until you are perfectly certain of
what you are going to say. Do your
first draft on a photocopy of the
form, to make sure that you can fit
everything you want to include into
the space available.
• DO read the form through and follow
all instructions. DO use black ink your form will probably be
photocopied and this makes it easier
to read.
Tip: keep a copy of the application form, to remind you of what you said
• The application form should be neat and tidy with no
crossings-out or large splodges of correcting fluid.
• a hand-written application form gives a good impression,
however If your handwriting is very untidy, it is better to
complete the form in block capitals.
• Try to fill all the space provided for your answers - too much
blank space makes an application look half-hearted
• If you have the opposite problem - not enough space to say all
that you need to - use a covering letter to highlight the most
important points and to say more about them. It is usually OK
to add an extra sheet if, for example, the form gives two
centimetres of space for "A-levels or equivalent" and you have
other qualifications which involved a wide range of subjects.
• Include a covering letter with your form: this can be used to
highlight your main skills and selling points
The Questions
General points:
• Be informative, detailed but concise in your answers: give the
employer the essential detail but leave them wanting to meet you to
find out more!
• Keep in mind the qualities that the employer is looking for, and
answer the questions in ways that will show that you have these
• Don't dismiss anything as irrelevant without careful thought.
Students often assume that their part-time work as a waiter, shop
assistant or fruit-picker can be of no possible interest to an
employer. This is not so - employers can learn a great deal about
your motivation and skills from jobs such as these - so do include
• Don't make lists: "reading, cinema, sport" under "Interests" will not
tell the employer anything useful about you. Give details of the
extent of these interests and any clubs, societies or achievements
related to them.
A “please see my CV” in response to questions on the
online application is a recurrent problem.
Recruiters are keen for students to also understand that
the questions asked on applications should be
approached as intensively as an interview question.
Asda noted that despite receiving 4,000 applications
online, many were of poor quality.
Competency-based questions
These are the hardest part of the form for most applicants:
questions usually begin "Describe a time when you …" or "Give
an example of ..." and asking for examples of specific skills such
as teamwork, leadership, persuasiveness, etc.
• Describe how your personal planning and organisation
resulted in the successful achievement of a personal or group
• Give an example of where others have disagreed with your
views. How did you deal with this?
Remember that these skills will be the ones that are essential
for success with that employer – these questions are the most
important on the form. They also now crop up in most graduate
interviews and the best way to prepare for these interviews is to
complete a few application forms with demanding competencybased (also called situational) questions.
Competency-based questions
These examples could come from part-time work; clubs and
societies; voluntary work; study at school; holidays and travel
or personal and family experiences.
Planning and organising a week’s independent travel in Scotland
is as valid an example as a trek through the Himalayas. Compose
a paragraph or so for each situation, outlining what happened,
how you approached it and what the outcome was.
The focus should be on you – even if the situation involved a
group, interviewers will want to know what was your specific
role in achieving the desired result.
Identify the skills you have gained
1) Identify the skills you have gained from:
• Work experience
• Sports teams
• Volunteering
• Hobbies
• Summer work
2) Research the role - find out what skills are
• Make the connection between 1 and 2.
STAR approach
One way of answering these questions is via the STAR
approach - Situation, Task, Action and Result.
It's a bit like a mini essay.
• the Situation and Task are usually combined and form the
• the Action you took, should form the main body of your
answer, and
• the Result should be your conclusion - try here to be specific if
you can: "We won the cup"; "Membership of the society
increased by 40%"; "We raised £400 for charity". If you failed
to achieve your objective say what you learned and what you
would do differently next time.
How, when, where, with whom?
Describe the situation or the task you were faced
What action did YOU take?
What results did you achieve/conclusions did
you reach/what did you learn from the
These are not always very important to an application - some
employers do not even take up references until after the final
interview - but they are almost always expected on application
Generally, employers expect one academic and one personal
• The academic does not have to be your personal tutor - if you
feel another member of staff knows you and your work better,
or will give you a more favourable reference, it is fine to ask
• The personal referee may be a previous employer (from a
vacation or longer-term job), a family friend or a
• Always ask your referees' permission to give their names and
tell them something about the job for which you are applying
(perhaps a copy of your application form too) so that they can
relate their reference for you to that job.
Sell the skills you gained from
casual jobs
Many students feel that their casual shop or restaurant job
is of no interest to selectors but this is far from the truth.
Explain the skills you gained serving customers, working in
a busy team, being tactful when handling complaints etc.
Here is an example of how one student did this:
"All of my work experiences have involved working within a
team. This involved planning, organisation, coordination
and commitment e.g., in retail, this ensured daily sales
targets were met, a fair distribution of tasks and effective
communication amongst all staff members”
Essential resources
Learners will need access to examples of real or
simulated job application forms and examples of other
job application documents such as CVs and covering
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