If you’ve never completed an online job application before, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t know what information you’ll be expected to provide when applying for a school leaver programme. Just so you aren’t shocked, stunned or horrified when you start your application form, here’s a short guide to what you can expect…
Do you meet the basic entry requirements?
Many school leaver application forms will start off by asking you to confirm that you satisfy the basic entry requirements of the school leaver programme. For instance, you will be asked to confirm that you have achieved, or are on course to achieve, the minimum academic requirements for the programme, e.g. 280 UCAS points. You may also be asked to confirm that you are eligible to work in the UK.
Contact Details / Personal Details
The next step of the application form is likely to involve entering your contact details. This is the easy part of the application, but don’t just breeze through it. Make sure you enter your home address, phone number and email address correctly. Double check you have entered the right details. There’s no point in sending off a fantastic application if they can’t contact you to invite you to an interview.
Education & Extenuating Circumstances
In this section, you’ll be asked to list your qualifications and grades. Again, this part is pretty easy, but make sure you’re very careful and don’t make any mistakes. Entering the wrong grades could be costly.
If you enter lower grades than you actually achieved, you may miss out on a place at an assessment centre. If you enter higher grades than you actually achieved, and are asked to provide proof of your grades, you may be removed from the application process for providing false information.
If you have any extenuating circumstances that affected your grades, you may also be given the opportunity to explain them in this section of the application form.
Employment History/Work Experience
This is your chance to discuss any jobs you’ve had or any work experience you’ve completed. It’s likely that you’ll be asked to provide the following details: your job title, the name of your employer, the location, the dates you worked there, your responsibilities and your reason for leaving.
Make sure you spell the name of your employer correctly and make sure the description of your responsibilities is concise and to-the-point. If you can use bullet points on the application form, we’d recommend doing so.
Treat this section of the application form like your CV. Tailor the description of your responsibilities to the specific school leaver programme you are applying for, using carefully selected keywords and cutting out any irrelevant information.
At some point on the application form, you will typically be given the chance to provide details of any additional skills you have, any positions of responsibility you’ve held, any scholarships or academic prizes you’ve been awarded, and any significant travelling you’ve done.
Only include pieces of information that are relevant to the position you are applying for. If you are fluent in another language, stick it down. If you have some niche IT skills, make sure you include them. If you can touch your nose with your tongue, don’t mention it at all. You get the idea.
Some application forms may only ask you to detail your education and work experience, and won’t actually ask you any questions. Many other application forms, however, will ask you a handful of questions about your career motivations.
Here are a few example questions:
- “Why do you want to join…?”
- “Please explain your understanding of this programme and the activities you expect to undertake in your first year with the firm.”
- “What does exceptional client service mean to you? Tell us about a time when you have delivered or received exceptional client service. What did you learn from it?”
This is the most challenging part of the application form. You will usually be given a word limit, so your answers will have to be short, sharp and well-informed. Before you answer these questions, make sure you have thoroughly researched the firm. Think hard about your career motivations, be honest and make sure your answers are unique. Click here for more tips on answering these kinds of questions.
In this section, you will simply be asked to provide the name and contact details of two or three references. Your referee needs to be someone who has known you in a professional capacity, such as a teacher, employer or someone you’ve done work experience with. Make sure you check they are happy to be your referee first. Oh yes, and don’t use family members or friends!
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For their own internal records, companies may ask you to disclose some information about your ethnicity, religion, sexuality and disabilities (if applicable). The information you provide will be used for statistical purposes only and will not be used as part of the selection process.
Finally, you will be asked to declare that the information you have provided on the application form is correct. At this point, it might be a good idea to do a quick recap and double check all the information you have provided on the application form. Once you’re happy with everything, confirm that everything is accurate and submit your application. Job done! All you have to do now is sit back and wait for an interview offer.