How to write a good application formApplication forms can often be infuriating journeys into intranet backwaters fraught with pointless bureaucracy, bizarrely random questions and frankly ludicrous levels of repetition. Still, for some jobs, they’re unavoidable. And at least you’ve saved the cost of a stamp. So where to start?

Before you even go near the form, you need to have an excellent idea of what your strengths and how you’re going to represent them. Using an executive CV writing service to write a professional and impactful CV is an excellent first step. City CV’s HR experts can help you identify the deliverables of your target role and match your skillset to examples of your achievements. They can give LinkedIn profile advice and a good covering letter, too. They even provide an application form coaching service, for when you absolutely, positively have to get the application right.


Be a tweaker

So now you have a professional CV, you should just cut and paste into the application form, right? Wrong. Spamming generic information at multiple roles is the bane of the typical recruiter’s life and quite often you’ll give yourself away by leaving in details relevant to another application – take the time to get it right each time.

Keep it brief

Give relevant answers in a concise style. Avoid long essays on your career trajectory, they are unlikely to capture the first stage recruiter’s imagination and too much information is a sure-fire way to get your application binned. Not only that, the recruiter at this stage may be a computer with little feeling for nuance. Keep it simple and to the point and avoid jokes; the time to dazzle your new employers with your witty badinage is during the interview stage.

Print, plan and prep

According to science, the eye is far less well designed to read computer screens than printed text, so wherever possible, print the application out and read it through first. This can help prevent surprises during an automated process. Attention to detail is crucial, so take any chance you can to eradicate the risk of error.

If you build it…

Maintain form and structure in your answers, particularly those requiring longer answers. Many of the prose elements of a typical application form are scored out of five or ten, so assess the space or character limit and write a list of five or ten separate bulleted answers, backed up with tangible results or outcomes.

Two ears, one mouth

Sending off a CV is a one way street, but when you fill out an application form, you will most likely be in a virtual area stuffed full of clues about what that employer likes best in its culture and candidates. Very often there will be leading questions that give away what they’re looking for; if you’re asked about examples of times you’ve worked with Acme’s Widget 3000, then it’s extremely likely they’re looking for that specific experience. So take full advantage; print and read through the form beforehand, work out the skills the employer wants and tailor your answers to match them.


City CV boasts a talented team of CV writers and consultants with over 100 years of joint experience. With our insider knowledge and expertise we know what a both recruiters and computer software expect to see on application forms. To find out how we can help you, call today on +44 20 7100 6656 or send an email to enquiries@citycv.com.