10 Simple Rules for a Winning Application

Applying for a job or an internship can seem like a daunting and mind-boggling task when faced with pages and pages of online application forms but don’t panic! It’s likely that it won’t be as time-consuming and confusing as first thought; follow these simple yet effective steps to make your application stand out from the crowd and win that all important interview.

  1. RESEARCH: It’s imperative that you do research into the background and the detail of the company to which you are applying before filling in the application forms; use the organisation’s website, company literature and the Careers Centre. You will need this to identify what key strengths and skills the company will be looking for in an employee and therefore to tailor your application to their desires. Let them know that you know them!
  2. PREPARE: Make sure you read the questions on the online application slowly and thoroughly before completing them so that you understand exactly what the question is asking. If you need to supply referees details then you should ask your referees before submitting the form. Also, check the application deadline so that you make sure you have plenty of time to complete the application and don’t need to hurry it at the last minute.
  3. CHOOSE LANGUAGE APPROPRIATELY: You may be limited by a word count for some questions so it is important that you use your words wisely. Now you know what the employer is looking for you must spend some time thinking about the right words to describe your experiences in a concise way. You want the employer to be able to read your work easily and not have to search for the key words in a crammed and muddled paragraph.
  4. DETAIL: Most applications will ask you to talk about your past work experience, university activities, academic history and interests so try and make this interesting and describe what key skills you gained from these experiences. Put yourself centre-stage!
  5. REMEMBER YOUR RESEARCH: Keep referring back to the company and the skills that they are looking for so that you can show how your skills would suit the job description. You don’t want to apply with a simple and generic application which could have been sent to a number of different companies.
  6. EXAMPLES: Remember to include examples to back up your statements; it’s these examples which will make your application different to the next one and make it more interesting for the employer.
  7. CHECK: Ensure that there aren’t any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. A carefully and well written application shows the employer that you have taken time and thought over the application and demonstrates professionalism.
  8. CAR: Use the C (Context) A (Action) R (Result) technique when answering competency based questions, eg. Explain where you were, what you were doing and then what you achieved and gained from the experience.
  9. SAVE: Save or photocopy the application form before sending it off so that you can read over it before the interview as interviews are generally a more detailed account of the application. Try and think of more examples for your skills than simply the ones already written in your application to make it more varied.
  10. CONCISE: Answer concisely and using the active style of writing, eg. ‘I organized sponsorship’ not ‘sponsorship was organised’ as it is more dynamic. Cut out any parts of your answer which does not directly answer the question or demonstrate the point that you are trying to make.


Stick to these key 10 steps during the application process and you will have the basis for a winning application!


About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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