Lydia says, "Grit your teeth, fill it in"

“Applying for job after job is so tedious! Application forms are all the same, the information’s already on my CV, why should I bother repeating myself when it’s already there?”

That’s a very valid concern Sylvia, but put yourself into the mind of the company you’re applying to. If you’re being asked to fill in a detailed form, not just send over a CV, the likelihood is that your application’s not going straight to the hiring manager.

It’ll be going into a pool of candidates to be screened and sent onwards, probably via an HR or recruitment consultant. They’ll have a list of criteria that your application will need to meet in order to progress to the next stage.

Your application will be weighed and compared.

Screening job applications is a complicated process.

Good resourcing professionals will have taken time to understand the role, the must-have essential skills candidates need to have and the experience they require. They’ll have a process in place to measure and judge all applications consistently.

For a recruiter working in house, within a large corporation, an application form enables them to capture the same key data for all applicants so that they can make a fair comparison.

Not only do they use these forms to compare and process applications, they’re likely to be using a recruitment system which is linked to their website and the forms on it. That helps them to manage the applications that come in – often in high numbers.

Many employers are investing in these systems to keep good records. They need to track and monitor job applications, and keep in touch professionally with the people who want to join the business.

Having supplied a CV, if you’re asked to then fill in an application form, online or otherwise, it’s vital to not presume that it’s just bureaucracy gone mad. Definitely don’t be tempted to shoot the messenger – even if it is the 5th application form you’ve completed today.

The good news, when making an application, is that you’ll have a level playing field from the start. The bad news is that you’ll have to work harder to show that you stand out on that level playing field.

When I say ‘bad news’, of course I mean ‘opportunity’. It’s your opportunity to search for your added-value and showcase it. If you meet all of the advertised requirements, you only have the same chance as the other candidates so your added-value is your ticket to that all important interview invitation.

On the application form, if you keep hitting ‘n/a’, or just paste ‘see CV’ into every box, because you resent the extra effort, you’re immediately at a severe disadvantage. Yes, the CV will be opened and reviewed, but consider that your job application may be one of 70 that’s perhaps being reviewed at 9am on a cold wet Monday morning.

Do you really want to be the one who makes the resourcer sigh and put your application onto the ‘onerous applications to review later’ pile? No, you really don’t.

Be aware that the public sector and much of the third sector focus heavily on equal opportunities. They’ll ONLY consider applications and often specifically refuse to look at CVs. They'll have strict guidelines, ratios and quotas to meet, and need to report on and monitor various data, including equal opportunities data. This isn’t just a pen pushing exercise. Their teams need to reflect the demographics of the area they’re working in, to support the community.

For public sector roles, the application process may be longer but will usually be more transparent in terms of job requirements, grading and future opportunities to progress. The process will be more supportive and inclusive, ensuring all people are considered equally for all roles.

Regardless of sector, always bear in mind: employers want to find people that want to work for them but they most want people who’re always prepared to go that extra mile. If you can’t find the energy to complete the application form, how will you find the energy to do the job?

Lydia Fairman

HR & Recruitment Specialist

Keywords: application, CV, recruitment, public sector, third sector, application form, selection, interview