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Depending on the job, the role and the organisation, applications can vary massively in the amount of time and effort required to fill one out effectively. That’s why it’s good practice to look over the specification and customise the job application well before the deadline date.

Understand what’s expected

The reason many applications take so long is because no organisation has a one size fits all approach. Where one role might request a CV and covering letter, another will have an online portal, psychometric testing and a 10 part application form.

Research, considering your response, drafting out your answers, proofreading and collecting necessary evidence can take countless hours, so where possible try and do it without the additional time pressure.

Customise your job application

Either way, the best chance at securing an interview means customising your application for each role. Start by researching the business. The company website is the best place to start. Check out their ‘About us’ page if they have one, the company blog and social media channels. This should give you a good grounding in what the business does and what they’re looking for in a prospective employee.

Much like when we discussed tailoring your CV, the job spec is your best friend when customising your application. Many people find that having a hardcopy of the job spec printed out, rather than on screen can help them digest the information better. Grab a pen and start highlighting key verbs, for example ‘implementing’ ‘managing’ ‘analysing’. Underline all the key tasks, ‘budgets’ ‘sales’ ‘marketing’ and use these to craft your answers.

For each bullet point, think of a past example from your education/work/volunteer experience that meets those criteria. If it helps make a list detailing those examples. If you’re limited by word counts, prioritise your strongest examples, or use examples which cover multiple points.

Triple check spelling and grammar

Never underestimate the value of the redrafting and proofreading stage so make sure you leave time for it. Ultimately, poor spelling and grammar looks sloppy and immediately turns hiring managers off. While many people struggle with this and it’s not something to be ashamed of, there is the assumption that if the application was important to you then you’d take the extra due care and attention to triple check for errors.

Never rely solely on spellcheck – mistakes can and will be made. If you can, borrow a second pair of trusted eyes to look over your application before you send it. Our brains can play tricks on us and we can read what we think we’ve written rather than what’s on the page. A few careless typos could be the only difference between you and another candidate with the same skills and experience – it pays to proofread!

Ready to take the next step? View the next chapter in our #GetHired Skills Toolkit.