Application Mistakes to Avoid

  • Last updated 08 Jan 2020


When you’re completing an application form for an apprenticeship, make sure you avoid these absolute clangers…

Misspelling the company name

This might sound mind-numbingly obvious, but you’ll be surprised how often this cardinal sin is committed. Double check your application form and make sure, firstly, that you have written the correct company name down. Don’t copy and paste your answers from one application form to another! There’s nothing worse than applying for a job with PwC and writing KPMG all over your application by accident.

Secondly, make sure you have spelt the company name right! If you’re applying to the National Audit Office, for instance, make sure it doesn’t sound like you’re applying for a job as a car salesman with the National Audi Office.

Providing the wrong contact details

Again, you’ll be surprised how often this schoolboy error crops up. If you’ve sent off a world-beating application, you need to make sure the company can contact you to invite you to interview. Give them an email address that you check regularly and make sure all the words, dots, numbers and ‘@’ signs are in the right place. Make sure you include all of the digits in your phone number. Don’t get caught out by such an elementary mistake!

More on applications:

Apprenticeship application form

How to stand out from the crowd


Writing too much

It can be tempting to bang on about all of the amazing things you’ve done which you think will impress the recruiter, but you should make a conscious effort to keep your answers short and sweet. Typically, employers want people who can express themselves in a simple and concise manner, so don’t cram loads of ‘impressive’ adjectives and irrelevant information into your application.

Pick out your most important attributes and talk about your most relevant experience. Often, employers will indicate a maximum word count for each answer. Do not exceed this word count. If you find yourself going over the word count, finish your point, but then go back through and cut out any superfluous words, phrases, sentences or paragraphs. Ask somebody else to help you if you’re struggling!

Writing too little

It’s really a case of finding the right balance. Whilst you don’t want to write too much, you also don’t want to write too little on your application form. If you’re given a box to fill on an application form, it’s a good idea to fill it or at least fill three-quarters of the space provided.

If you’ve got a whole page to answer one question, two or three sentences won’t suffice. Tons of blank space won’t look good. However, make sure you don’t waffle on about irrelevant stuff in a bid to fill dead space. If you haven’t quite filled a box and you’re happy with your answer, be confident that it is comprehensive enough.

Not providing evidence

When you talk about why you’d be a great candidate for the apprenticeship and wax lyrical about your valuable skills, you can’t simply tell them that you’re brilliant! You have to provide evidence. Anybody can say they’re great; you need to hammer it home with some relevant examples! If you don’t, your application will stay in the NO pile, and that’s not where it belongs.

Not tailoring your application

We’ve already touched on this, but it needs to be said again: the answers you give on your application form should be tailored to the specific company you are applying to. Far too many people copy and paste answers from other application forms.

It’s the equivalent of sending a Valentine’s Day card to your girlfriend and writing:

Dear Girlfriend.

I would relish the opportunity to join you for dinner at a generic romantic restaurant this evening.

I will bring you one red rose and some chocolates in a heart-shaped box.

Lots of love,

Joe Bloggs


Companies want to know why they are ‘the one’ for you. That doesn’t mean lavishing them with compliments and expensive presents. You need to get to the heart of why you want to develop a long-lasting career with their organisation.

Don’t send a generic application! Think about why you want to work for them and provide some genuine and original answers to the questions you are asked.

Not double checking your application

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: proofread your application thoroughly before sending it. That ‘Submit Application Now’ button may look shiny and inviting, but fight the temptation to click it. Go back through your application first with a fine-tooth comb, correcting any grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and poorly constructed sentences. Be brutal. You won’t regret it!

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