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Application form guidelines

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Job application forms come in all shapes and sizes, but they do have some things in common. These guidelines focus on the main sections you’ll find in most application forms.

Before you begin:

Personal details

Include your address with the full postcode, your main telephone number with the standard dialling code, your mobile number and your email address.

The employer won’t be able to contact you if your details are wrong. Make sure the information you provide is accurate.

Some forms may also ask you:

Employment history/work experience

This section can be off-putting if you have little or no work history. But, you can include:

When you list any jobs or work placements you’ve had, start with the most recent and work back. You need to give the name and address of the employer, your job title and the dates of your employment. You usually also need to give a short description of your main duties.

It’s important to remember that other activities can also prove to employers you have the skills, experience and qualities they need. Here are a few examples:

They might not sit comfortably in this section; a lot depends on the layout of the form. Some forms have a ‘Skills and Experience’ section and this is an ideal place to showcase what you’ve learned from these activities.

You can also use this type of information to support your application by including them in the ‘Additional information’ section.

Remember to link what you’ve learned with the skills and qualities the employer is looking for. 

Education and qualifications

You’ll need the names of the secondary schools, and any colleges or training centres, you’ve attended. Some employers will ask for their addresses too. You’ll also need to give details of any examinations or qualifications you’ve taken. Start with the most recent and work back.

If space on the form is limited you may have to summarise the information. For example, you might note that you have National 4 Qualification passes in English, Maths, Biology, French and Design and Manufacture, instead of listing each one separately.    

If you have a Higher in a subject, you don’t have to mention the same subject at National 4 or 5. List the exams you’ve still to sit, or don’t have the results for yet, as well as the qualifications you already have. Include any employability awards and other relevant qualifications, for example Health and Safety or First Aid certificates.

Additional information

This is your chance to show you have the skills, experience and qualities the employer needs. Stress what you can do, not what you can’t. You can include information on:


Most application forms have a ‘declaration’ statement just before the signature. You must be sure that all the information you have given is true and accurate before you sign this.


A reference provides information about your suitability for a job. Most forms ask you to provide the contact details of two ‘referees’, people who would be willing to give you a reference. Employers usually only contact them if they are thinking of offering you the job.

Choose your referees with care. The person needs to be positive about your skills, qualities and experience. Don’t give the names of family members or friends. Possible candidates would be a:

It can be a good idea to give your referees a copy of your CV so they have all the information they need.

Accompanying letter

It’s a good idea to send a short covering letter with the completed application form. This gives you the opportunity to highlight important information not included in the form.

You’ll find more information in the article Application form hints and tips.

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