Many jobs require jobseekers to complete an application instead of submitting a résumé. But an application is a résumé in disguise: Its purpose is to show your qualifications. Here are some tips for making the best impression with a job application:
When you pick up an application, don’t miss an opportunity to make a good first impression. Dress as you would for the job. Politely request two copies of the form, or make your own copies of the original before you start filling it out.
Read the entire application before you begin. Then, use one copy as a rough draft and the other as the final product. Use a typewriter or write neatly with black ink.
Answer every question on the application. Write "not applicable" or "none" if a question does not apply to you. Some reviewers suggest answering "will discuss in interview" if asked for information that might disqualify you.
Make a copy of your completed application. If you go back for an interview, take this record with you. Having a completed form will also make it easier to fill out the next one.
Although forms do not offer the same flexibility as a résumé, you can still find ways to highlight your best qualifications. For example, you can use strong action verbs to describe your duties. If you do not have paid experience, you can give job titles to your volunteer work or list relevant academic experience, substituting student for job titles.
If you are filling out an application for a computer database, you will want to use keywords and simple formatting—no boldface or bullets. Put the most important information first.
Include as much information as you can for each question without becoming wordy or repetitive. The more relevant details you provide, the better your chances of using a keyword that matches an employer’s requirements. Before submitting the form, copy and paste your answers into a word-processing program so you can check the spelling.
Manik Thapar (MBA)