There is no way of avoiding reality: Application forms can take a long time to complete.
Yes, they can be challenging, but they’re also your first chance to stand out from the crowd.
Employers use them for evidence that you have the relevant skills, experience and attributes – combined with potential, commitment and motivation – to excel within their organisation.
Your goal is to show how you meet and exceed the requirements of the role with specific examples, which are based on questions or statements that require a careful response.
Apart from asking questions about your education, employment and referees you could be asked about your personal interests and achievements, to provide examples of times when you have demonstrated specific skills and reasons for wanting to join the organisation.
Common questions and requests include:
Although you might be tempted, do not respond with: ‘See my resume for full details’. Always provide complete answers, even if it feels as if you’re repeating yourself. Some recruiters may only read the application form and not make it to your supporting documents.
Details count. Employers are looking for evidence of your abilities and how you structure your response. Be prepared by anticipating questions and practicing your answers. Start collecting examples of where and how you applied your skills and experience.
Take advantage of resources and experts, including staff at your university careers centre who can help you prepare for questions. Visit GradAustralia.com.au for specific examples of employer questions and how successful candidates responded.
Can you preview the application and complete the form over several sessions or do you need to do it in one sitting? This is your chance to shine. Allow plenty of time to complete the application.
Compile all the information you’ll need – transcripts, institution and course details, employment history and any required documentation. Decide which examples you will use for each question to avoid repetition.
The employer wants to know that you have a genuine interest in and commitment to working with them. Make sure you research the employer (history, objectives, vision, mission, functions and priorities) and role thoroughly. Start with the employer’s website and their recruitment literature. Investigate annual reports, industry publications, social media, videos, graduate testimonials and media releases. Draw on knowledge you have gained from attending careers fairs and employer events.
Be prepared to demonstrate why your background matches the role with concrete examples: work experience, academic work, extracurricular activities, voluntary community service activities, membership in clubs and societies, travel and study exchanges.
Many online forms don’t have a spellcheck. Carefully spell check AND proofread the document, then copy and paste it into the application form.
If you’re much below, you’ve probably not provided enough content. Equally, never exceed the limit.
Cutting and pasting from one application to another is a recipe for disaster.
Consider them an opportunity to promote yourself.