With many graduate employers using online applications as part of their recruitment process, you need to be prepared to effectively market yourself and evidence your skills and competencies. 

With employers having large numbers of applications to sift through, you will need to understand the skills that they are looking for in order to make an immediate impact. Be sure to demonstrate what you’ve achieved and clearly demonstrate your suitability for the role. 

Continue reading to discover how to stand out from the crowd (in the limited space an application form provides), and land yourself that all important interview! 

Top tips

  • Take time to prepare – don’t start filling in the application form straight away. 
  • Reflect on your on your abilities – be clear about how you meet the job criteria and the value you can bring to their organisation. 
  • Create a great first impression – with research that helps you understand the role, organisation and sector it operates within. 
  • Provide evidence – address employer requirements with specific examples that demonstrate you meet their selection criteria. 
  • Refine your writing style – stand out from the crowd with an application that is succinct and punchy, communicating how you meet the criteria with impact. 
  • Get it done – complete it with time to spare so that you can check, double check, and send it off in time. 

Writing your Application

Personal information – provide basic details such as name and email address.

Educational background – detail your education in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Include the institutions you’ve attended, courses taken and qualifications achieved.

E.g. Give an example of a time when you have worked as part of a team? What did you do to ensure success?

E.g. Explain how you meet the selection criteria providing evidence of your suitability.

Work experience – detail your work experience in reverse chronological order (most recent first). List your main duties and responsibilities, emphasising those matching the job you are applying for.  

Competency based questions – you may have to answer competency style questions.

Give specific examples when you have demonstrated the skill, behaviour or competency. 

Personal statements – you may be asked to write a statement in support of your application.

Use the space to explain why you are applying for the position and provide evidence that you meet the requirements.

Some employers have a specific word limit, others will be happy for you to continue onto additional pages.

Address ALL of the employers requirements using the key headings or bullet points specified in the person specification. 

  • Print the application form and instructions off or download them. Read them through carefully so that you are clear on what is expected and the process you need to follow. Watch out for word count limits and specific submission instructions. 
  • Gather all of the information you need including academic achievements, employment history and contact details for your referees. 
  • Understand the role. You need to be clear about the specific skills and qualities they are looking for, and how you meet their requirements. 

  • Think about the specific examples you will use to provide evidence of the skills and experience required.

  • Work offline drafting your answers to the questions that require the longest responses first – don’t leave these until the end.
  • Write about specific experiences that demonstrate your suitability for the role.
  • Your answers need to be short and concise. Use the STAR technique and power verbs such as 'delivered', 'achieved' and 'organised', and descriptive words like 'effective', 'flexible' and 'consistent' to create impact.
  • Print out your answers and check them through as it’s easier to identify mistakes on paper. Good spelling and grammar are essential to creating a great first impression.
  • Check you are within any specified word limits.
  • Ask someone else to check your application form – they may spot something you have overlooked.
  • Paste your answers into the online system, saving your work as you go along. Check that you have not missed any content in the pasting process.
  • Print a copy of the application to refer to when you get invited for interview. 




  • The STAR technique is a useful way to structure your answers to any competency based questions i.e. those asking you to demonstrate a skill.
  • It stands for Situation Task Action Result. You may also add an additional 'R' for Reflection if you wish to talk about what you learnt from the process or what you may do differently in the future.
  • This is a useful technique to use both when verbally communicating your answer at interview as well as in written form on an application form.
Click here to donwload USW Careers guide to STAR technique.

  • Get it completed and submitted well within time, incase you experience any technical problems with the submission.
  • Ensure you have attached any additional pages if  permitted / required.
  • Check the application has been submitted. You will often receive an email confirming it has been received. 


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