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Application Skills

Jenny Keaveney
Careers and Employability Service
7th March 2013
with acknowledgement and thanks to
Unilever and the Bank of England

The Application Form

Initial Thoughts

dos and donts


Experience and Extra-Curricular Activities


Real Life Examples










The Application form

Initial Thoughts:

Its easy

Ill definitely get through this bit

My qualifications will impress them enough for me to

sail through

I dont need to try that hard

I dont come over very well on paper/online but I know

I can impress them at an interview

The facts

Its not easy!!

Academic qualifications are just the first hurdle

You need to impress on paper/online to have a chance

of getting an interview

Before you start

Attend presentations and careers fairs most employers
keep a note of students they were impressed by
Make sure you meet the employers requirements, e.g.
academic achievement, languages or other skills
Review your life - what you have done, when & why.
Catalogue your achievements academic / work
experience / social activities / other. Expand on these
achievements and the skills and knowledge required for
each achievement.
Research the Employer

How to get to the top of the pile in a very competitive market

place? Do your homework. Research, Research, Research.
(Carl Gilleard, Association of Graduate Recruiters)

Researching employers
Dont just give a standard answer about your interest
in that field: make your answer specific to the
What is unique about the employer? What do they
offer graduates, placement students or interns?
Dont just copy and paste information from their
website/brochure, include information from resources
such as the BBC business pages, directories such as
Best Companies to Work For and other news sites
(e.g. Reuters/Bloomberg for finance)
Name drop attend a careers fair or presentation and
say how your interest has grown as a result of
speaking to xxxx who told you yyyyy

The Application form


Research the company, and what it is looking for

Answer the questions asked!

Perform a spell check

Get someone else to proof-read

Sell yourself - how did you make a difference?

Save your form and complete over a few visits


Copy and paste between forms


Leave any gaps

The Application Form

Work Experience and Extra-Curricular Activities

All work experience is good work experience!

Most experience is good experience!

You can categorise into sub-divisions e.g.

Positions of responsibility (and awards received)
Leisure and hobbies

Use diverse examples, e.g.

Societies (especially if you sit on a committee)
Personal achievements - whats important to you??

Use your experience to sell yourself!

The Application form

Work Experience

How? Why?
Was this the

My role as a intern at xxx was of the most benefit as

I increased my confidence. My team had a high
degree of autonomy and it was a demanding
working environment where I was often required to
work long hours, followed by presentations to senior
managers. The role particularly allowed me to
experience the many different functions that exist
within a business. It was also a great opportunity to
experience new cultures
How is this

But did you

have autonomy
+ demanding

What did
you present
and how?

And? What
did you
learn? How
has this
your career

Why do you want to work for us?

and why should we interview you?

I have a genuine interest in advertising, as

demonstrated by
my high first-year grades in the xxx element of my
degree demonstrate my ability to
I am keen to begin my career learning from the very
best in xxxx and your recent award for

What are Competencies?

underlying personal characteristics that influence
individual performance
behaviours which are linked to personal values
Competencies are made up of:

skills - what you know how to do

knowledge - what you know

self-image - how you see yourself

values - what you think is important

habits - things you do without thinking

motives - what drives your behaviour

Top 5 competencies that the Top

100 employers look for:
Commercial awareness

Competency Based Questions

Give us an example when you.
What did you do?
How did you make a difference?
How did you bring others along with you?
in other words, you you you!!!!

Competency-based questions
The good:
Throughout my A Levels, I worked part-time with Flora Motley, initially as a
sales assistant although after one year I was promoted to Weekend Accounts
Within my extended duties, which also included bookkeeping and budget
plans, one of my principal tasks was to increase the intake of Store Account
Card customers, as Head Office was concerned that the branch was underperforming in this area.
To tackle this assignment, I took the initiative to introduce new selling
techniques and to increase staff awareness in relation to the account card and
our customers' specific needs.
This involved running fortnightly training sessions and monthly meetings to
monitor our progress as a branch. I also developed an incentive scheme, which
offered prizes or additional paid time off, to reward staff upon completion of
continually increasing targets. As a result of this work, the branch's customer
account card uptake rose by 45% over the year, and our store's nationwide
ranking in this criteria escalated from 40th to 6th position. My efforts received
commendation in the Flora Motley Monthly Newsletter.

High performer

The problem

Identified a
implemented it

A positive

Competency-based questions
The bad..
The biggest challenge whilst carrying out the assignment was conducting a
financial analysis on the company. I was assigned this task, as I had
previous experience in this area as I have carried out two financial and
accounting modules during my University degree. I conducted a full ratio
analysis on the company, which included analysing Next's Profit and Loss
Account and Balance Sheet. I presented the ratios and included details of
the company's current financial position, along with an explanation of how
the company could improve their position.
The Presentation involved presenting our group's report on Next Plc to the
rest of the Marketing group. Our group conducted a Microsoft Powerpoint
presentation, to ensure it was conducted in the most efficient and
systematic way. Each member presented their individual section, the final
section then included contributions by all group members. Our group had
practised the presentation on numerous occasions prior to the final
presentation, which ensured a smooth running. Each member of the
Marketing class was given a feedback form to report their opinions of the
presentation. Our group received all positive feedback and were all awarded
a 2:1 for the presentation, this contributed towards the final outcome of or
Marketing modules.

Apathy- did
not put self
forward for



Competency-based questions
The ridiculous...
Mealtimes are a difficult and challenging time as this is one affair
when my friends and I are truly tested in our decision making
There has been more than one occasion where a unified
agreement on what to do about dinner has proven to be a
problem. I therefore take it upon myself to be the spokesperson
for the group. One example would be where two of my friends
wanted chicken nuggets and hence wished to go to McDonalds
while three others preferred the Chicken Royale from Burger
King as opposed the the McChicken Sandwich one can get at
McDonalds. Using my initiative, intuition and lateral thinking I
suggested that we all go to KFC instead. My reasoning was that
this was that KFC do chicken popcorn and are a far better choice
than chicken nuggets. While their Fillet Tower Burgers are a step
up from the standard Burger King Chicken Royale as they have a
hash brown in them as well. Thus using some originality of
thought, a certain degree of diplomacy and a persuasive tongue I
convinced them all to join me at KFC.

Does not
bring the
group with

of others

Competency-based questions
and the hopeless ...
I do apologise for not completeing the
following sections, i have not had enough time.
I graduate in a week and am extremely busy. I
hope you will consider this application.
Thank You !!!

What Can You Do Now?

Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail!!
Make a List (consider competencies):

Use All Areas of Your Life - sports, clubs, societies

Work Experience & Projects

Leadership & Teamwork Situations

Positions of Responsibilities

Pick the Most Illustrative Examples & Think Them

Focus on What You did and why

Further sources of information

Careers and Employability Service booklet CVs, Covering Letters and Application Forms
AGCAS DVD Your Jobs On-Line

Good Luck!
Careers and Employability Service
At the entrance to Keynes driveway
Open 9-5, Monday Friday