Making the cut. Application forms that work.

Hours spent on an application form, polished to perfection, this one can’t fail? Then – zilch.  Recurring theme?

It may not be them.  It could be you.

Trotting out the clichés

Why do you want to be a lawyer/accountant/ engineer/ whatever?

Are your answers worthy, but oh-so-boring? Bland? Flabbier than a Weightwatchers Convention?  Smacking of desperation?

Rhyming couplets and peerless prose are not needed, just honesty and imagination. Recruiters long for a pinch of personality, an inkling of originality.   You are likely to be more convincing verbally than in writing. So speak it, record it, review it, translate to desktop.

Two mistakes, you’re toast

Otherwise effective applications hit the road to nowhere because of too many errors.  Teensy weensy though these may be, in a competitive situation they are tie-breakers, shootouts, ex-factors.  More than a couple mean relegation to:



circular file under desk (a.k.a. waste-paper bin)

Remember: the spellcheck and grammar check are your friends.

Tip: Set these to UK English.  We are not (yet) the 51st state.

How to score

Many applications are marked like exam papers.  Has the employer thoughtfully provided lists of “competencies”, “skills”, “strengths”?  Disregard at your peril. These measure how well you shape up. Address each, make the grade. Ignore, earn nul points.

Assertions are not enough

“I am a good team player”. “I have strong communication skills.”

Yeah, right.  Sez you.

Substantiate with tangible evidence.  Up-front.  Because they won’t spend time looking.   Remember: recruiters assume nothing, and expect everything.

Lifting text straight from one application to another

Obvious to a trained eye.  A dead giveaway is not removing the name of the original firm  Oh yes, it happens.  That aside, believe me – they know. Avoid.

Sounds familiar?

So mend your ways – and press submit with certainty.

Gill Sharp
Senior Careers Consultant
QM Careers Centre


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