Come across your dream job but the deadline is tomorrow? Don’t panic! There is still time to apply.

Before we begin, you should note that you will need at least three to four hours to complete any application. If you try and do it in less time than this you will increase the chances of it being unsuccessful. You may also need to leave extra time for proof reading.

However, with our tips below, you will be able to write a successful application in a hurry.

1.     Check the application process

An application form may only be one part of the application process so be sure that you have enough time to fulfil all that is required at the initial stage. Some additional requirements may include psychometric and numeracy tests (though these may come at a later stage), an accompanying CV or cover letter.

Double check their requirements before you start and make sure that you have enough time to complete the application process before the deadline.

2.     Have the right information to hand

Start off by having the following in front of you:

  • Job description
  • Person specification
  • An up to date CV

Application forms will ask for the same information as your CV such as contact information, education, employment history etc. Therefore, filling in these sections should be fairly straightforward if you have all that information to hand.

3.     Take some time to do some research

While time may not be on your side, you should spend some of that time to do some research on the company you are applying to. At the very least, you should look at the About Us pages, some recent press releases and reports.

Demonstrating that you are aware of what a company does is vital, and you should hint at some of this research in your application. If you get past the initial stage, you should take some time to do further research so you come across knowledgeable about the company during the interview.

4.     Focus on the personal statement, relevant information section and competency based questions

You will spend most of your time on the personal statement, relevant information section and the competency based questions.

The person specification should indicate what is essential and what is desirable in an employee. Make sure you cover all the essential skills in the application before moving onto the desirable qualities. However, if you are really pushed for time you may have to only touch upon the desirable skills.

Your personal statement is a summary of yourself and your unique selling points. This is not entirely dissimilar to a short profile you would include on your CV or on a cover letter. You will get an indication of how long this is supposed to be by the size of the box or a specific word count. If there is no word count do not take this as an invitation to ramble on. Keep it concise and to the point, especially if you are in a hurry.

You should read the person specification carefully, analyse it and identify the skills they are looking for. You should use this as a base for the relevant information section and will give examples of how you can match the skills they are looking for.

How to tackle competency based questions

If an application has competency based questions then you will need to spend some more time thinking about these. Competency based questions are designed to see how you can apply your experiences to attributes they are looking for.

For example, you may be asked ‘Talk about a time you had to work to a tight deadline’. The employer wants you to show them that you have good time management skills, can work well under pressure and meet tight deadlines.

Your answer will give a real life situation though it doesn’t matter if this is from your academic life, work or otherwise. You will outline the scenario, the task at hand, what you did to solve the task and the outcome of this. The best way to answer this question is using the STAR principles, and you can find out more about them here.

Although it might be tempting, you should never make up a scenario. You may be asked about it in an interview and if you cannot remember key details, employers will notice. Again, this scenario doesn’t have to be from your academic career or even your part-time job. It could be a situation you found yourself in volunteering or as part of a society at university. As long as you show that you completed the task at hand (working to a tight deadline) it doesn’t matter what the scenario was.

Having a few of these scenarios lined up in the back of your mind is useful in any interview situation, whether you are in the room with an interviewer or writing an application in a hurry, so it is worth having a think about them.

5.     Do one final check

Proof read your application. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes or obvious grammar errors. You should also ensure that all the documents are attached and they are the correct documents. If you have any blank boxes, you should put N/A.

Keep a copy of the final application you submit. If you get to the interview stage you will want to refer back to it.

Top tips

  • Avoid copying and pasting answers, or use them sparingly if you are really strapped for time. However, make sure you proof read properly and check that your answers are relevant and apply to the question being asked.
  • Try and give yourself enough time and apply for positions when you see them. To avoid finding your dream job at the final hour, sign-up to our job alerts so you don’t miss a deadline.
  • I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this, but last minute applications should only be used for emergencies and should not be common practice.

Hopefully this has given you some top tips on how to write an application form in a hurry. Even if you are strapped for time, it is important that you take it slowly and make sure you answer everything you need to. Good luck!

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