Person sat at a table writing a CV on a laptop.
Person sat at a table writing a CV on a laptop.

Application form advice

An application form is an official way to apply for a job or training course with a company.

You can use an application form to show why you would be a good choice for the course or job.

Before you start an application

Before you start an application form it's important to have ready:

  • a list of the jobs and work experience you have, including an outline of your responsibilities
  • the names of any training or qualifications that you have
  • any ID or documents you might need for a specific course or job, such as your driving licence or National Insurance number

Personal details

An application form will usually ask for some personal information about you, such as your full name, date of birth, address, phone number and email address.

The form might also ask you for a few sentences to introduce yourself. You can use this answer to say why you're interested in this job or training.

Education and training

The application form will likely ask you to list the names of any qualifications or training you've done, such as GCSEs or NVQs. You'll also need to include the name of the school, college or training provider where you studied and what the dates were.

You can include any courses or qualifications you're currently working on and put down your predicted grades.

Work history

You should use the work history section of an application form to list the paid jobs you've done and the responsibilities you had.

If you do not have a lot of work experience, you can also include placements and any volunteering you’ve done.

You should list the most recent work experience first and include:

  • the name of your employer
  • your job title
  • the dates you worked there
  • what you did, usually 2 to 3 sentences

Remember to include experience that's relevant to the job or training you're applying for.

Try to match the words you use to the keywords in the job advert or training description. This will make it easier for the person reading your form to see that you're a good candidate.

Gaps in your work history

It's normal to have some gaps between jobs and work experience when life events happen.

You can read our advice on how to explain gaps in your work history.

Skills and experience questions

Some application forms will ask you to give examples that show you have the skills or experience they're looking for. This is more common for job applications.

Common questions include:

  • describe a time you have been under pressure at work
  • explain a situation where you've worked in a team
  • tell us about a time you had a tight deadline and how you met it

As long as you highlight the skills they're asking for, you can use examples from work, hobbies, social activities or volunteering.

To structure your examples in the best way possible, you can see how to use the STAR method in an application.


The application may ask for a reference to find out about your previous experience or training.

A good reference is someone who can talk positively about you and has worked with you directly, such as a manager or trainer.

If you need a reference and you do not have much work experience or you've recently finished education, you could ask:

  • a teacher or college tutor who knows you well
  • a team leader from a volunteering group or sports team
  • someone respected in your community

Before you submit your application

Before submitting your application, read through your answers and check the spelling and grammar.

You should keep a copy of your answers so you can use it for future applications and refer back to it if you're invited to an interview.

After you submit your application

After you've submitted your application, hopefully the company or training provider will contact you. However, you might not hear back from everything you apply for.

It's normal to apply for several different roles before getting an interview.

This can feel disappointing but it's a good opportunity to develop your experience and get feedback about how you can improve future applications.

If you're not sure how to improve or need some more help with applications, a careers adviser can help you.