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  lse.ac.uk/careers How to complete Application forms  1 Contents Introduction  1 Before you start 2 Competency based questions  9 Motivational questions 15 Personal statements 19 Biographical details 22 Back to basics FAQs 24 Application checklist 26 Further resources 27 Struggling with your application form? 28 Welcome Welcome to this edition of How to complete application forms . Our careers consultants have pooled their collective wisdom and sought advice from key employers to produce this guide. The booklet is organised into accessible sections for you to focus on particular aspects of the application process, but reading it through entirely before you start your applications may save you time and effort in the long run. We hope you find it useful.Finally, don’t forget that LSE Careers offers application form seminars throughout the year as well as face-to-face guidance appointments. Just go to the careers website for up to date information: lse.ac.uk/careers On behalf of LSE Careers I wish you every success. Jenny Owen Director, LSE Careers  23 Before you start Why employers use application forms Application forms allow recruiters to ask all candidates the same questions, making them as fair and objective as possible. They also offer you the opportunity to expand upon who you are and what you have done to demonstrate you fulfil the 3 Cs which all employers look for: ã The Competencies to do the job – the skills, qualities or attributesã The Commitment to do the job – the energy, drive or enthusiasmã The Cultural fit to work within the organisation – a shared belief in the values pursued by the organisation. Typically CVs restrict you to telling prospective employers about selected highlights from your career. Application forms offer you the scope, with open-ended questions and personal statements, to make the best first impression you can.“ Don’t underestimate the importance of getting the basics right. Accurate spelling, grammar and punctuation are absolutely vital”.  Adam Askew , BBC Make time to apply No matter how outstanding your qualifications and experiences, failing to set aside adequate time to research, draft and proof your application form will leave an employer with doubts about your motivation and commitment to join their company.Just as there are no hard and fast rules about how much time you should set aside to write an essay, the amount of time needed to complete each application form will vary. But the basic principle remains – don’t leave your application until the last minute! Read the instructions Application forms are a simple way for employers to test your ability to accurately follow instructions and write concisely. Before you start writing check to see whether the organisation you are applying to has provided any specific instructions on how to complete the application form and make sure you follow them, otherwise your application will stand out for the wrong reasons. Top Tip The Back to basics  section of this booklet (page 24) covers some of the questions we get asked the most at LSE Careers about the more technical aspects of completing an application form. For example, “There isn’t enough room on the form! What should I do?” or “Should I type directly onto the form or cut and paste from another draft document first?” What employers are looking for Most applicants find it relatively easy to complete their personal details and qualifications but lose inspiration when they are asked to write about themselves in more depth. Often this is because they don’t know enough about the organisation, the job or their own skills to begin constructing an answer. Research the organisation Researching what the employer does, what they have to offer and what competencies they are looking for involves more than simply reading the recruitment literature. Visiting the organisation’s website and reading their annual report are good places to start to find out more about: ã The organisation’s structure and cultureã Their current projects, campaigns, products or clientsã Their long-term strategies.Find out whether the organisation has received any media coverage recently in either the national or trade press. Top Tip Ask LSE Careers if you need help finding suitable websites, newspapers and magazines to help with your research.Investigate the organisation’s main competitors. Also consider developments within the sector, for example changes in the law, the merger of two competitors, etc, and the potential impact on the organisation.Attending employer presentations, careers fairs and open days will provide you with opportunities to network with current employees. Try to find out more about their day-to-day work, training and promotion opportunities within the organisation and typical career development. Talk to employees from different divisions of the same organisation, as well as from their competitors, to see how their job roles and career paths may differ. This will help to ensure you are applying to the company or specific division that best matches your skills, motivations and future plans.“ Take every opportunity to attend events held by companies you are thinking of applying to – interacting and talking to people who are currently working in the business is the best way to get a feel for the culture, work and environment that you will be exposed to. This will really help you make informed decisions as to where to apply and the knowledge you gain will help you enormously during the application process”.  Jenny Fraenzel , BDO Stoy Hayward LLP Understand the job Most organisations will provide you with a job description, which will give you a basic outline of the tasks you will be expected to undertake. Some organisations will also provide a person specification to explicitly identify the skills you will need to complete these tasks. Use this information to check that you meet the employer’s essential criteria for qualifications and experience. This will help ensure that you are targeting jobs at the right level. If the organisation asks for a postgraduate qualification in economics, do you have one? If not, is there a more appropriate entry-point into this organisation for you? Top Tip Use the job description and person specification as checklists to self-assess your application. Have you provided clear examples to demonstrate you have all the relevant competencies mentioned in them?   45 Identify your skills Your research so far into the organisation and job you are applying for should give you a clear idea about the competencies required by the employer. Now you need to be equally clear about the competencies you have to offer. Do they match?Remember: successfully completing an application form requires you to do more than simply list your achievements. In order to persuade an employer that you are the ideal candidate, you need to prove with specific evidence.You can find lots of useful self-assessment tools in the Career planning section of our website. Tips for skills auditing ã  Avoid relying too heavily on examples from a single job or activity ã  Identify transferable skills, ie, skills that can be taken from one job, activity or sector to another ã  Think broadly about the skills you have developed through: –  academic study  –  previous employment  –  volunteering  –  travelling  –  through student societies  –  other extracurricular activities ã  Think about which examples are the most interesting, relevant and illustrative of your abilities to the employer. Conduct a skills audit Below is an example of how a simple skills audit might look but remember this table is not an exhaustive list of skills or examples! The skills required by this organisation are...Examples demonstrating these skills could include... Communication skills Including:ã verbal skills ã written skills ã presentation skillsã listening skills.ã writing essays, dissertations or articles for the Beaver  ã  speaking to clients and preparing reports at work ã  networking at careers events ã  involvement in mentoring. Teamwork  Including: ã  building relationships ã  supporting others ã  negotiation skills ã  setting aims and achieving shared objectives. ã  volunteering projects ã  being a member of a sports team or student society, etc ã  undertaking group projects as part of your degree or at work. The skills required by this organisation are...Examples demonstrating these skills could include... Leadership and decision-making  Including: ã  managing conflict ã  delegation ã  sensitivity to others’ needs ã  taking responsibility. ã  being on the committee of a student society, etc ã  making career management decisions in your personal life ã  project management at work ã  mentoring. Problem-solving  Including: ã  identifying or anticipating problems/areas for improvement ã  using logical or lateral thinking to find solutions. ã  resolving customer complaints ã  designing a simple database to more effectively manage client contacts for a charity, society, small business, etc. Organisation and planning  Including: ã  time and resource management ã  handling pressure ã  meeting deadlines. ã  planning an overseas trip ã  organising an event ã  balancing your study and a part-time job. IT skills  Including: ã  using software packages in a variety of contexts ã  using the internet and email. ã  Word, Outlook, etc ã  PowerPoint ã  SPSS, Excel, etc ã  Dreamweaver, FrontPage, etc. Creativity  Including: ã  innovative ideas ã  making improvements. ã  raising money for charity in an unusual way ã  improving your productivity/motivation, eg, starting a study support group with friends, etc. Numeracy  Including: ã  descriptive statistical skills ã  inferential statistical skills ã  budgeting. ã  academic study ã  practical experience on an internship ã  handling stock or cash at work.
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