Key ways to apply for jobs

There are many ways of applying for that prized job, none perfect and most designed to make it easier for the employer. Here forum talks through how candidates can maximize their chances of success

Anything that makes it easier for employers to find the perfect employee should be good news for the candidate, because each should see him or herself as the potential perfect employee. These are the main means by which candidates are recruited.

Employer application forms
Very common and probably the most tedious. The reason for employer application forms (EAPs) is understandable: the employer wants to ensure candidates fill out all details that are important to them.

Filling them in, however, can be time consuming, futile and a bit of a walk in the dark. There are normally numerous pages and because the employer wants lots of information, the print is small and the space on the form to write is limited.

EAPs capture more information than a resume. As it is usually one EAP per employer, and candidates will probably be applying to employers in a specific industry or sector, the chances are that if one employer in that industry wants an EAP filled out, they all will.

Job hunters could be completing a different form for every employer they apply to. In some sectors, this could be as many as 80 forms. This doesn’t give much time left to do anything else, like finishing that all-important degree.

The key to success with EAPs is to give the relevant information, as well as injecting a bit of your own personality into the answers. Employers are always looking for that person who is going to reinvent the wheel for them, so do not be reticent about showing character. They are going to see that at some point anyway, so be creative, but do not come across as naive or flippant.

Try to make it interesting, but never make anything up or embellish outrageously. If job seekers feel they have it bad filling out all of these applications, they should spare a thought for the desk-bound human resources people who have to read them all and pick out those that fit the selection criteria.

EAPs come flooding in, in their thousands, in the final weeks before a deadline. The truth about recruitment is that a small number of people read applications all day, on the bus or train, in meetings, hallways and in bed before they go to sleep. So something has to make an EAP stand out in a positive way if it is to be selected.

Write clearly, with dark ink so that the form can be read and photocopied readily. Typing is advisable. Some EAPs are available online and can be downloaded, filled out and then e-mailed – if this option exists definitely take it.


There are more types of resumes than varieties of apple in this world. Like apples, some appeal to one taste and some to others. A resume is the hardest way for a job hunter to stand out from the crowd. As there are millions of them, they are also the easiest thing for employers and recruitment agencies to lose or misplace.

The key objective with a resume is to ensure that all the necessary information for someone to make a judgement about the candidate is there: name, address, education details, crisp well-summarized employment history, interests and memberships. Date of birth, marital status and very personal pieces of information are not so important.

Job hunters should include a milestone in their life, provided it is arresting enough for people other than the immediate family to find it interesting.

A candidate’s resume is going to look very similar to other applicants’ resumes – particularly those that have a similar education, work history and success record (there are more people like this than is usually assumed). The key is to make the resume look interesting and ensure that the important information is easy to find.

Online assessment
By far the most effective, and will become more and more common. Candidates spend a bit more time completing it than a traditional application form – about 30 to 40 minutes.

However, as it is web-enabled and you are doing all of the data inputting, the employer or recruitment agency receives it straight away. Theoretically, they could be in touch on the same day or very soon afterwards.

The most advanced online assessment systems have a function, which is linked to a specific employer’s competencies. Candidates are assessed according to behavioral characteristics which employers find most suitable for their business, making it very easy for them to select appropriately. Employers or agencies receive all the information that they need quickly and as it is online, candidates have more space to express themselves.

Candidates should do their research well before completing an online assessment form, as there are often questions about the company and the industry they operate in. There are often questions designed to show how much an individual knows about the employer – they are looking to see how committed people are.

There are no (or should not be) wrong or right answers to the questions, which are usually multiple-choice. As they are personality-related, the tests are looking for a candidate’s true personality, which will then be matched to the employer’s competency model.

The start of the campaign
The application process is crucial. Candidates will always be compared to large groups of people, but the odds improve markedly after this crucial initial stage. Getting a first interview or to the assessment stage of recruitment depends upon the quality of the initial application.

It never hurts for a job seeker to call the employer if uncertain about a particular point or wanting additional information. But remember that employer’s resources are stretched to the limit, so if they do not have time to speak try another tack.

Recent hires are often good sources of information – they must have done something right so track them down. Their details are often on the web or in a recruitment brochure.

Applying for a job is the start of the campaign to secure a job – and therefore worth careful preparation.

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