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job application form - completing and filling

The company application form (CAF) or the employer application form (EAF) is designed by individual employers and relevant only to their organisation. On this page we will cover the process of completing and filling in your career application form. It is widely used, particularly by larger organisations, many of which are now encouraging online application form.

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Remember, this form is the first opportunity you have to let potential employers know you're the one they're looking for. Blow it at this stage and you won't get a chance to persuade them in person, no matter how good you are.

There are some basic rules when completing any form, whether it's a standard or employer's application form.

First, do some research about the industry and the company you are applying to. Visit your university or local library and read the employer's literature before you start. This will help you target the form to the company in question.

Always use the form specified by the employer and make sure you read it thoroughly before you begin. Here are a few tips to help you achieve the best results from application forms:

* Photocopy or print off the form and do a 'rough' version before attempting the final one.

* Write clearly in block capitals and use decent black ink so the form can be reproduced easily. Employers generally prefer applications to be written though typed forms are usually acceptable.

* Many companies use computers to read your application, so make sure it's clearly laid out and follow all the instructions - to list details in reverse chronological order and so on.

* Some forms ask a series of analytical questions while others will simply have one large section asking you to demonstrate why you are suitable for the post. Provide examples that demonstrate you meet the requirements, these can be taken from your work experience, academic study, personal interests or domestic circumstances. Link your answers to what you know the employer wants in an employee and give evidence. When describing a situation be clear about how it arose, what your role was and the outcome. Use a range of examples and adapt your answers for each specific application.

* Keep things clear and concise - cut out irrelevant information so the form is easy to read and interesting.

* Create a good impression by using positive language.

* Don't under sell yourself but be honest when detailing your qualifications and experience; recruiters will usually ask to see relevant certificates.

* If the form asks for names of referees, ask your referee for permission to use them first. You are usually required to name two people, one from an educational establishment and one from your past/present employment.

* Ensure you've completed all relevant sections and don't leave any sections blank - write 'N/A' (not applicable) if necessary.

* When you've finished the form, check for grammar and spelling mistakes. Get someone else to read it through and give honest feedback. Don't forget to keep a copy to read before the interview!

Once you've posted or emailed your form, you may wonder what happens next. After the company has got rid of the hopelessly inadequate applications the difficult process begins.

Most companies will have a clear picture of the type of person they want to recruit - the knowledge, skills and attitude they feel the ideal candidate should be able to demonstrate (or show a good potential to develop). They will match your form against this specification to see how you compare. Promising applicants will be called for interview. Unsuccessful applicants will be rejected.

As an example, a company wanting to recruit 10 graduates would expect to receive over 450 applications. It would probably invite 150 people for first-round interviews and then choose 50 of those to attend an assessment centre, from where, after tests, the final 10 would be chosen.

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