Category Archives: application form

Be an early bird this summer!


Summer is here, exams are over and you don’t have to be back on campus until October – time to put your feet up. Or is it? Well, not if you want to be the career early bird and bag yourself a job before you graduate. Some of the big graduate schemes are already open for business, so there’s no time to waste if you want to get ahead of the pack. 


Make a start

From now onwards it’s possible to make applications for graduate schemes, so use this window of opportunity while you can. Feedback from some of our top graduate recruiters suggests that three-quarters of applications are usually made in the final third of the recruitment cycle. Many employers recruit on a rolling basis so that they start reviewing applications as soon as they arrive; you stand a better chance of scaling that first hurdle if you submit an early application. Leave it too late and the vacancies may be filled.

Before you rush off to start writing your applications, just pause for a moment and put yourself in the shoes of a graduate recruiter.  In particularly competitive sectors employers may be reviewing hundreds or even thousands of applications. Some may outsource this function or use applicant tracking systems, but for many it’s still a manual process. And that means reading through application after application – a pretty monotonous task.  They have the unenviable job of having to look for reasons to reject, not select,  applicants and nearly all will carry out a rapid “first cut” to remove the worst offenders.

Mistakes will cost

The stark truth is that for some recruiters, and law firms are top of this list, even one typo or grammatical or spelling mistake can be enough to see you rejected. Don’t rely on spell check to do the work for you and watch out for the (un) helpful autocorrect feature, which can turn a grammatically sound sentence into a syntactical nightmare. You might type something correctly, and find its changed into something far less pleasing.  Autocorrect is particularly prone to change ”your” to ”you’re” and “its” to “it’s”. Always get someone else to proof your document before you hit send. You will read for what you expect to see, a third-party will read what’s there – therein lies the difference!

If you don’t enjoy crafting fluent English sentences, or if English is not your first language, the application process is going to be even more fraught. Keep your sentences and your vocabulary simple and don’t be tempted by the thesaurus. If you try to impress with long words and you’re unsure what they mean, your application will fall flat. At best the application will provided some unintended humour and at worst you’ll frustrate the recruiter who’s trying to disentangle the meaning.  Remember that application writing is not the same as academic writing: clarity is king. A simple sentence which conveys meaning suggests an ability to communicate clearly and is a reasonable indicator that you can write coherent reports, letters of advice and memos. Such writing might see you through the cut.

You may be feeling confident about your chances, particularly if you’re graduating with a (predicted) first, have an internship under your belt and have been a society president. This confidence may be misplaced! If you submit a rushed application littered with errors, your chance of proceeding to the interview stage is virtually nil.

How many words?

Use the information in the application form to guide the length of your answers. If a question has a 500 answer word limit then you won’t be able to produce a compelling answer in 300 or 400 words.  It may sound obvious, but read and answer the question asked – not the one you’d prefer to answer. And don’t think you can just re-hash answers from an earlier application form; recruiters can see through these games and get irritated by attempts to throw them off course.

And finally…

Never copy and paste, always start each new application from scratch as a new document and keep referring back to the question. When you are writing essays you need to answer the question to get good marks – application forms are no different! Remember that we’re here to help and guide you through the application process, but that doesn’t mean we’ll do the work for you.  Will we check applications – yes? Every single one? Certainly not. You need to take ownership of the process and apply the right techniques. Do that and you’re on the road to success.

This post was originally published by Claire Leslie on the University of Warwick’s Careers Blog.

If you would like any help with job applications, you can get in touch with the UoC Careers team by email: 

Don’t finish your career before it starts!


The UK fraud prevention service is warning new graduates that they could be risking risk their futures by lying on job applications

So you’ve graduated from Uni – congratulations! After all the partying, it’s time to get your CV ready and start applying for those all-important graduate jobs. But what are the consequences of lying on your job application?

The UK’s Fraud Prevention Service (CIFAS) has produced a new publication: Don’t finish your career before it starts. This leaflet is targeted at current students as well as graduates and explains to young people about job application fraud – which despite the myths that lying on your CV is harmless, could result in imprisonment. A lot of graduates think that ’embellishing’ your CV, by adding A Levels or making up references is acceptable, even expected. In reality, if you submit false or exaggerated information on your application, you could end up being dismissed, getting a criminal record or even in jail.

The aim of the publication is not to portray young people as fraudsters, but to educate them in the risk they are taking if they are tempted to embellish their experience and achievements. Research carried out by CIFAS demonstrates that a lot of applicants are unaware that job application fraud is a crime.

Did you know that there is an Internal Fraud Database run by CIFAS that allows employers to record cases of actual or attempted job application fraud (as well as fraud committed within employment such as stealing money, bribery and corruption)? They can also check any new applications to the company against this database.

What this means is that if you attempt to gain employment after being recorded in the database, then your previous fraudulent application will be uncovered – even if your most recent application is genuine. This could have a massive impact on your graduate job prospects!

We know how tempting it can be to tell a little white lie on your application, especially if you haven’t been getting a very good response from those applications you have submitted – but it just isn’t worth the risk! If you feel that your application or CV is not working for you, make an appointment with the Careers Team, or send it to the careers inbox for some feedback ( – we are here all summer and happy to help!!


Post adapted from

5 ways to boost your chances of getting a graduate job

Businessman Overwhelmed with Paperwork

For a lot of our students graduating this year, finding a graduate job will be top of their to-do list, but how can you ensure that you are going about the process in the best way possible?

Here are the top five ways to make sure that your application will make it to the top of the recruiter’s pile – then all you have to think about is the interview – but don’t worry, we can help with that too!!

Do your research on the job and the company

It is vital that you can show you understand the place of the company within the sector and the local economy. What impact does the company have on the local environment? Is it a leader in the sector? Show that you understand the job you are applying for, and how it fits into the wider organisation.

Target your applications and tailor them to the role

The scattergun approach may have worked for a friend of a friend, but you’ll be more likely to get to the next recruitment stage if you demonstrate that you understand both the job role and the company. Tailor your application to the specific job and company – send out a generic CV and cover letter and it’s likely to end up being filed under B1N.

Back up your experience with evidence

Making a list of your experience and skills won’t get you very far if you can’t back it up with real-life experiences. They don’t have to be from education, or from a previous job – use everything that you have been involved with to demonstrate how you meet the criteria. You can use the STAR technique (blog post here) when writing your examples to really get the point across.

Highlight an outstanding achievement

You will really impress the recruiter if you can demonstrate a real achievement that shows you have the skills they are looking for. Competing the Gold Duke of Edinburgh award (for example) can indicate drive, determination and perseverance, as well as team work and organisational skills – all things that employers value highly.

Get involved with anything and everything

Adopt the mantra ‘Say YES to everything’ and who knows where it will lead? Don’t just join a society or club – get involved and make a difference. Taking an active interest in the group by organising an event or mentoring new recruits, for example, demonstrates to recruiters that you are the sort of person who gets stuck in and can take a leading role. Again, these are qualities that are greatly valued in the world of work.

For help with applications, CVs and cover letters, you can make an appointment with a careers coordinator or adviser – just email or ask at the LiSS desk in the library.

Careers in Healthcare – where to look! (Friday’s Featured Vacancy – 09/05/2014)

Looking for your first job can be quite a daunting prospect, but don’t worry, the University of Cumbria Careers Team are here to help!

Our Health Professions pages will help you find a wealth of information and resources related to working in the health and well-being sector.

In addition to this every year there are a number of events and fairs at the University which will allow you to meet the professionals and get advice directly from them.

Once you have had a look at all the resources available online, if you still need some help and support, email the careers service and we can help point you in the direction!

Applying for posts

All NHS trusts use the NHS careers website. You can search by type of job or location. You can also subscribe to receive updates.

Private sector posts are listed on a number of sites

Guide to applying for your first nursing post (pdf)
Guide to applying for your first nursing post (word doc)

UoC Careers Service  Guides to specific careers paths

Useful links

NHS Careers website

Nursing Standard  publication  of the Royal College of Nursing

Nursing Times – professional and clinical articles for nurses

Concours open now – How to apply for a job in the EU today!

The final article of EU Careers week is this really useful post about the application process itself – concours opened yesterday (Thursday 13 March) so why not visit and apply today?


Application process

Having set out the various different roles available to you earlier in the week, below is a quick rundown of the application process itself, which takes approximately nine months, start to finish.

  1. Create an EPSO account here and let us know if you are going to apply: both of these can be done today!
  2. Concours are announced by EPSO in a ‘Notice of Competition’ so it’s a good idea to keep a lookout on their website, or follower them on Twitter @EU_Careers. Once this is published the application process can begin!
  3. Complete the online application form. You will need to fill out your education and professional experience (if any is required!), complete the language assessment section (you will need to use your second language at the Assessment centre) and answer the motivation questions (how is your education and experience relevant to the profile you are applying for).
  4. Validate your application and book the Computer-based (CBT) pre-selection tests.  Don’t wait until the last minute to do this, slots fill up quickly so book early to avoid disappointment.
  5. Take the CBT tests. The test will assess, among other things, your Verbal, Numerical and Abstract Reasoning skills. It’s a good idea to start practicing early as you’ll need to be speedy during the test!
  6. Assessment Centre in either Brussels or Luxembourg. On the Assessment day you will be tested on job-related skills and it will be competency-based. On the day you will have to do a group exercise, an oral presentation and a structured interview, all in your second language. There’s also a separate written test on the specialty.
  7. The Reserve List. Successful candidates are placed on a reserve list, a database which Heads of Units use to recruit according to the profile sought.

The quickest, and easiest way to access the latest hints and tips from those people who have gone through the very same process as above, is by joining the UKinEU network online. This is a network where British EU officials, in a bid to help increase the number of Brits in the Institutions, offer their advice, tips and sometimes time as British candidates move through the process. In addition there are in depth guides to the application process, with some sample tests; a forum for you to ask questions; descriptions of the types of jobs available…and so much more!

So what are you waiting for?! Contact for an invite if you haven’t joined already!

Assessment Centres – Practice Makes Perfect?

Many students worry about what will happen in a job interview, but increasingly the key phase of the selection process for many UK companies is the Assessment Centre. Usually only offered to candidates who have passed the initial stages of selection, such as an online application form or a telephone interview, assessment centres are a longer event, typically lasting one or possibly more days.

Elements that tend to be included in an assessment centre are:

  • Psychometric tests
  • Group discussion exercises
  • E-tray or in tray prioritisation exercises
  • Business case studies
  • Presentations
  • In-depth interviews

Candidates are under fairly intense scrutiny and are often very aware of competing each other, which may lead to some rather unnatural behaviour. According to careers advisers, some of the phrases that indicate successful performance are:  speaking up (without being unduly dominant), taking a lead, “building” on the contributions of others, keeping an eye on time, analysing facts, facilitating, awareness of the ‘big picture’. Much of this focus is on how people work together in teams so it may be worth studying something about group dynamics in business situations.

But nothing beats having a try! Many careers services are now offering practice sessions on Assessment Centres to students and the University of Cumbria is no exception. On 13th November, we plan to run two practice assessment centres in collaboration with Enterprise Rent-a-Car at our Lancaster campus (exact location to be confirmed).  Priority will be offered to students from the New Business School but a large number of places will be available, so watch your student globals at the start of next session.

If you can’t wait until then, here are a couple of links to help you gen up on the subject of Assessment Centres:


Application Howlers

The last few posts on graduate prospects, etc. seem so serious, perhaps it’s time for something a little more light-hearted!

This was taken from a circulation that went round UK careers advisers a few years ago, but is still worth its weight in gold.  It’s a series of ‘howlers’ that candidates have, so we are led to believe, put on their job application forms:

“I am someone who knows my own destiny, but I have no definite long term plans.” 

“I was closely involved in every aspect of my former company, right up to its bankruptcy.” (would-be Trainee Accountant)

“Excellent memory skills, good analytical skills, memory skills…”

On an application for a position requiring considerable people skills – “My hobbies include watching television, computer chess, philately (especially first day covers) and walking my 2 spaniels.”

“I have a criminal record but I am not in jail at the moment.” 

“I have a desire to work with commuters.” 

“At secondary school I was a prefix.” 

“Hi, I want 2 get a job with U.” 

“I have a 100% attendance at work, except for the seven days I have taken off sick.” 

“Size of employer: about 5’ 10” ” 

“Here are my qualifications for you to overlook.” 

“Suspected to graduate early next year…” 

“My health good, that of my parents not so good.”

“Like one of your coffees, I am designed to be opened, savoured and enjoyed.” 

“Finished eighth in my class of ten.”

“I enclose a tea-bag so you can enjoy a cuppa while perusing my form.” 

“I loathe filling in application forms so much that I’ll give you details at the interview.” 

“If called to interview I would like to discuss the salary, pensions and sickness benefits.” 

“Place of birth – A London hospital.” 

“Being a Virgoan, my sense of assertiveness and resilience has prompted me to continue with my ambitions to be a solicitor in a major city law firm…I am also a seventh generation descendant of a Chinese princess and a Sulawesian warrior, which makes me…both an amiable and energetic person.” 

“I do not have any major achievements that I would consider to be of interest to this application.”

“…dealing with fear and being able to follow orders under terrifying conditions.” (from a student member of a sky diving club) 

“I believe in helping other people and so I am a blood and organ donor.”

“Up until a little while ago I used to compete in British-Eventing competitions on my horse, from which I got a real kick.” 

“Working on a farm has…improved my communication skills which are especially important when working with large livestock.” 

“My life-long love of chocolate biscuits, is the main reason for his interest in the company.” (United Biscuits)

 And the morale of this cautionary tale is of course: proof read your application carefully before you send it off!

If you have any other application howlers you would like to tell us about, please send them in to (ref: UOC Careers Blog).  All submissions that are decent and legal WILL be published. Look forward to hearing from you shorty…