How to fill in an application form
An employer may ask you to fill in an application form instead of sending a CV. The form could be on paper or online.
Follow our guide on how to fill out an application form.
Before you start
Gather together all the details you’ll need to fill in the application form, for example:
- your qualifications
- your work history
Read the job description and instructions on the application form to understand what the employer wants. Research the employer to find out who they are and what they do. Using this information, you can start to plan what you're going to add to your form.
You may have to fill out an application form using a computer. If you do not have access to a computer, you can book time on one at your local library.
Provide your personal details
You'll usually need to include your:
- full name
- date of birth
- phone number - give a number you'll be available on during the day
- email address
Depending on the job, you may also need to add your:
- driving licence details
- national insurance number
- permission for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check
- work permit details
Provide your education history
Fill in your education history, starting with the most recent first.
You'll need to list:
- your qualifications
- the name of the organisations you studied with
- other training courses you have completed
- the dates you attended
Provide your work history
You'll add your employment history here, starting with the most recent. You can include work experience and volunteering activities. It's usual to go back about 10 years, though earlier if you have relevant experience beyond this.
You will need to include:
- the name of organisation you worked for
- what role you had
- when you started the job
- when you left the job
The application form may also ask what your main tasks were. You should prepare 3 to 5 bullet points to describe what you did in each job role.
Explain work history gaps
When you have a gap in your work history you should give a brief explanation and say what you did during that time. You can also add more detail in your cover letter.
Breaks from work
State why you took time off from work. The employer can ask for more information in the interview. Reasons might include:
- raising a family
- contract came to an end
- caring for a relative
- receiving medical treatment
- decided to retrain
On your application form you can state, 'made redundant between [insert the dates]'.
Employers will understand redundancy is a business decision. If they want more details, they'll ask in your interview.
If you have a gap because of a conviction, you need to check whether your conviction is spent.
If it is spent:
- you do not need to tell employers about the conviction, unless it is relevant to the job
If it is not spent:
- write an honest statement in your cover letter - find tips on how best to write this with advice from Nacro.
It is better to explain a dismissal in your cover letter. When talking about a dismissal, explain briefly:
- the circumstances at the time
- what you have learned from the situation
- how you have improved since
Show your skills match the job
Application forms often include this section where you give examples to show that you have the skills and knowledge the employer is looking for.
You may be asked questions on the form set by the employer, or have to explain how you meet the job requirements laid out in the person specification that comes with the form.
- describe a time you have been under pressure at work
- explain a situation where you've worked in a team
You can use examples from the workplace, from home, social activities or volunteering, as long as you highlight skills relevant to the job.
Use the STAR method to help structure your examples.
How to choose references
You'll usually need a work-related reference and a personal one. Make sure you check with people first that they’re happy to provide one.
You should include the person's:
- name and job title
- relationship to you
- contact details
If you do not have any work experience or do not want to use your last employer, you can ask other people to give a reference, including:
- an older employer
- a teacher or college tutor who knows you well
- a team leader from a volunteering group, a society or sports team
- a faith leader from your place of worship
After you complete your form
Once you have completed your application form, make sure you:
- check the spelling and grammar
- sign and date it
- save a copy for use with future applications, and in case you're asked about it at interview