What is an application?

An employer may choose to use an application instead of a CV, or ask for you to complete both. Applications enable employers to ask specific questions related to the job in question and may include competency-based or creative tasks.

We have a useful guide on how to best prepare yourself for competency-based questions in both applications and interviews in our Resource Library.

What makes a good application?

No application process is the same. However, there are some key guidelines and principles to stick by:

  1. Consider your position – Do you meet the criteria for the role? Do you have the competencies and attributes the employer has detailed in the job and person specifications? Do your values align with the company’s values? You'll be expected to show evidence that you've thought about these questions throughout your application.
  2. Maintain accuracy and quality – Make sure you follow instructions carefully and your application is presented well. For instance, it's important to avoid leaving gaps in chronological summaries. You should also check for repetition as well as spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, as these can lead to your application being dismissed immediately.

  3. Consider style and content – Applications are normally very specific about what they expect. For instance, if there's a word limit, it's important you stick to it. This is a crucial opportunity to communicate your passion for a particular role or company, so make sure that's reflected in the way you write.

  4. Get a second opinion – Always get someone to check your application and highlight errors. If there's time, contact Careers and Placements for feedback too. You can then submit your application with confidence!

Handy application guidelines can be found in our Resource Library, along with lots of other useful tools.

Speculative applications

It's estimated that over 70% of graduate and placement-level opportunities are not formally advertised, so speculative applications are a great way to access a hidden labour market.

Speculative applications are enquiries regarding potential jobs or placements that have not been advertised and usually begin with a telephone call followed by a CV and cover letter. 

Making a speculative application isn't usually as straightforward as a standard application, but it can open up opportunities that you would otherwise have missed. You can find our guide to speculative applications in the Resource Library.

Advice for international applications

Qualifications are different in each country, so make sure you provide enough detail for the recruiter to understand how yours compare to local equivalents. 

Enter the level of achievement, your main subjects of study, and grades or results (in terms or as a percentage, as these are easily understood). 

You can find information about equivalent qualifications on UK ENIC.