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What to include on a job application form

Posted February 18, 2022

If you’re serious about job hunting, you’ve probably already got a great CV and a killer covering letter. But to apply for many jobs or apprenticeships you’ll also need to fill out an application form. While these level the playing field for job applicants, they can make it challenging to stand out. Read on to find out how to make yours leapfrog you to the next stage in the recruitment process.


Why the application form?

Research suggests it’s not uncommon to apply for more than 15 jobs before being hired* … that’s a lot of application forms to fill in! 

Yet while they can be time-consuming to complete, many employers see them as the fairest first step in assessing candidates. Forms ensure that all applicants provide the same types of information, so it’s easier to compare and select people based on relevant experience and skills.

So instead of seeing it as a chore, view filling in an application form as an opportunity to show off your skills and personality – and ultimately why you’re right for the role. Particularly as some employers, like Wessex Water, only use an application form for all their apprenticeship roles (no CVs or covering letters!). So it might be the only chance you get to make a good impression.


Plan to succeed

No two application forms will be exactly alike, but you’ll probably find yourself supplying the same basic information each time – such as your qualifications and work history to date. If you have the essentials already outlined in a Word or Google document – perhaps in your CV – you can copy and paste these (with care!) into the relevant fields.

It’s important to tailor other parts of the application to the job though. One example of this is when it comes to explaining why your skills are relevant to a specific role. So spend some time researching the position, qualifications and experience that the employer is asking for – using the job description – to make sure you nail these questions.

This for 15 and this for 150-200. The first is global, but with a small and specialised sample, while the latter is US only

Job application no-nos

It can be easy to get carried away when you’re trying to stand out, but there are some things to avoid:

  • Never lie – it could get you fired*, and in some cases, in legal trouble.
  • Don’t apply if you’re missing a necessary requirement for the job e.g. a Driver CPC if you’re applying to be a lorry driver.
  • Use humour with caution! It could show confidence or approachability. But if an employer uses a formal tone of voice in their communications, you should do the same.
  • Typos and grammar mistakes could knock you off an employer’s shortlist… if only because it suggests you’ve been a bit slapdash and haven’t taken the time to proof read your application before submitting it.



Step-by-step guide to filling in an application form

Personal details

Most job applications kick off by gathering personal details. These include your name, date of birth, and contact details such as your email address. If the job has a requirement to drive a vehicle, you may need to give details of your driving licence.

In some cases you might need to provide additional information, such as proof that you’re entitled to work in the UK. Or you may need to provide certain permissions. These might include letting your data be processed, or some basic security vetting to work on a nuclear site such as Hinkley Point C.

Employment history

When providing job history, a school leaver or recent graduate is usually expected to list every position they’ve held. This should certainly include any permanent roles and industry placements, but it might also include summer jobs or temporary contracts.

While a summer job working at a theme park may not seem relevant to an apprenticeship in welding, for instance, all work experience shows initiative and a willingness to work. It’s likely temp jobs will also have helped you develop some of the core skills and behaviours employers are looking for in new employees.

DON’T PANIC if you don't have any work history to include here! You could always mention any volunteering or extra-curricular activities you’ve been involved in. For instance, if you’ve taken part in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme. Or you helped to launch a school campaign during Anti-Bullying Week, for example.

If you’ve been in work for a while, list your employment history covering at least the past 10 years, and any other positions that are particularly relevant.

Give your work in date order, starting with the most recent. For every role you list, include:

  • The name of the organisation
  • What your job title was
  • The start and end dates of your employment


The form may ask you to give other information, such as your main responsibilities, or the relevant skills or experience you gained. Try to condense each job into a few bullet points. These might describe the role, the skills or experience you developed, or any major achievements you received, such as a prize or promotion.

Don’t forget to link everything back to the role you’re applying for now. Make sure you’ve read the job description carefully and you pull out any relevant skills or experience from your past work history to demonstrate you have the qualities an employer is looking for.

If you’ve been made redundant, state this in your work history and give the dates during which you were unemployed.

Educational history

You should list all of your academic history and achievements, starting with the most recent. Give the name of where you studied, the dates you attended, and any qualifications or certifications you gained.

Some employers may focus only on the core qualifications you’ve achieved. For example, Wessex Water only asks about the grades you achieved in GCSE Maths and English. Always read the questions fully, because these will make it clear how much detail they want to know about your educational history. If an application form doesn’t specify, give them the full history.

Making your case

Many application forms include more open-ended questions too, such as:

  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • How do your skills and experience make you suited to this job?
  • What are your hobbies?


These questions are your chance to show that you have what the employer is looking for. It’s also a chance to show that you understand what the job requires, and how you might deliver it. There’s usually a word limit for your replies, so you’ll need to be concise.

If you’re applying for a job on the Hinkley Point C project, it’s definitely worth mentioning if you’ve been involved with Young HPC. You might only have signed up to the programme – or you might have been to one of our events. Whatever your involvement, it’s definitely worth flagging this in your application form as it shows your interest in the project and that you’ve carried out some basic research.


If you’re applying to be a delivery driver, open questions give you the chance to talk about additional skills or behaviour beyond your driving licence. You could highlight experience that shows you are responsible, for example, and explain why that’s a benefit for somebody driving a company-branded van.

You should definitely explain how any further driver training you’ve acquired makes you suitable for the role – even though you’ll likely have listed it already in the qualifications section – because this demonstrates behaviours like commitment and a willingness to learn too.

Even if you don’t have any directly relevant qualifications, you still have the chance to describe your strengths. Look at the job requirements or preferred soft skills, such as team working or time management – and think about any roles or ways in which you’ve demonstrated these in your past.

The random factor

Some employers like to ask unusual or seemingly irrelevant questions. These aren’t there to catch you out, but to probe your ability to think about new or unexpected situations. As an example, Wessex Water has previously asked candidates: ‘You’re given an elephant. You can’t sell it and you can’t give it away. What do you do with it?’

There’s no right or wrong answer to these questions: the key is to engage with the question and answer it thoughtfully, making sure to explain your answer.


You may need to provide details of one or more referees who can vouch for your abilities. Ideally, you’d get a professional reference from somebody you’ve previously worked with, such as a former boss. However, if you’re leaving school or college, you might instead choose a teacher or tutor.

If you can’t do either, or you need additional referees, consider people with standing in the community. Neighbours or community leaders you know might be happy to vouch for your character.

Remember: you must ask somebody before listing them as a potential referee because it’s likely that an employer will contact them.



Even when you’re sending off lots of applications, it’s important to make each one as good as possible. So ask yourself, is your application:

  • Complete: Have you included everything the employer asked for?
  • Accurate: Remove any exaggerations and correct any mistakes
  • Relevant: Have you tailored your answers to show your suitability to this role?
  • Well written: Check for typos and other errors. If necessary, copy and paste your answers into Word or similar and use the spell checker first
  • Double-checked: Get a friend or family member to read through the application before you press ‘send’
  • Saved: Keep a copy of the job advert and your application in case you make it through to interview or assessment


Useful links

Get more help and advice from the following resources:

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