The Job Application Format

Typical sections to expect
on a job application form

If you are going forMost application forms follow a fairly standard job application format.

This can actually give them a distinct advantage over CVs and resumes.

Although some people see this set format as something of a strait jacket, in practice this can give you more freedom to promote yourself more flexibly than you can on a CV or resume.

Sections in a typical job application form

Personal Details

This section will always appear on your job application form, asking for name address, email and contact phone numbers. Make sure you fill it in carefully and accurately as this is how therecruiter will get back in touch with you.

Just one small typo in your email address and the invitation to an interview could go astray. So always check and double check!

Date of birth is less likely to appear because of age discrimination legislation. You may find a question about eligibility to work in the country to which you are applying.

Post Applied For

If you are going for a job in a big company, they may have a number of vacancies at the same time.

This means they will often give the job a reference number as well as a title. Use both on your application so that they can pass it on quickly to the right person. They may also ask where you saw the job advertised so they can track the effectiveness of their advertising.

As part of this section you may be asked additional questions, such as your current salary or desired salary, the notice you have to give or the date you would be available to start a new job.


In every job application format there will be space for you to provide information about your education background, so make sure you keep a record of your studies so you can refer back to it and complete this section accurately.

The amount of detail they ask for will depend on the job and the company. Sometimes you may be asked for a brief summary of your qualifications. If so, make sure you list relevant subjects and course first.

On the other hand you may be asked for a full breakdown including subjects and courses, dates of study, where you studied and grades achieved. Don’t list exams you failed unless it will leave a big gap in your education – keep your application positive!

Employment History

Where you have the choice, it is usually a good idea to list jobs in reverse order, as your most recent work is more likely to be relevant.

You will usually be asked for the start and end dates of each employment, the name of the company, your job title and a brief description of your duties.

When describing your duties, consider how you can make them as relevant as you can to the job you are now applying for.

Unless told otherwise, feel free to group jobs according to relevance, so you may wish to list short term and temporary roles at the bottom and keep the longer term contracts at the top.


Usually two referees are asked for. These should ideally be your current or most recent employer and then either a previous employer, a tutor at your college (if you recently left education) or a personal referee such as someone who knows you through voluntary work you do or a club or society you are involved in. Do not put down friends or immediate family as referees.

Employers generally ask for the names and contact details of these people so that they can get in touch directly and receive a confidential response from your referees. Make sure these detail are accurate and that you have asked their permission to include them.

You are not required to attach a written reference to the application form.

Personal Statement

This section will appear in every job application format. It is often just a big, white, empty space where you are invited to tell the recruiter why you would be the right person for the job.

Many job applicants just waffle on randomly about what they have done and fail to make the case for why they will be able to do this new role well.

The secret with this section is to plan it carefully and to match it to the requirements of the job.
Go through the job description and person specification carefully and draft how you will fill in the job application. Format your response into sections based on what the recruiter is looking for. Make it as obvious as possible that you have exactly what they are looking for!

Health Declaration

If there is a question of this nature on your form, it is only intended for any health related issues that may have a direct bearing on your ability to do the job.

If you have a health issue or disability that will not affect your capacity to do the job, then you only need raise it on the Equal Opportunities monitoring section (see below).

Signature and Declaration

Whatever the job application format, don’t forget to sign and date your form. Above your signature you may well find a statement such as: Allthe statements made on this form are true. I understand any false statements may jeopardise my application and may lead to an offer of employment being withdrawn.

This is your commitment to the employer that you have been open and honest in your application.

Equal Opportunities Monitoring Questions

These questions will often be on a separate sheet and are to collect information about your age, gender, ethnic origin and disability status.

The answers to these questions allow employers to monitor who is applying for the vacancies they advertise and adjust their recruitment processes to make them more inclusive.

The sheet is normally held by the Human Resources department and not seen by the staff who will be interviewing, so anything you write here will not influence thedecision to recruit.

There is quite a range of additional questions that may appear on a job application form, but these are probably the key questions that will appear in a typical job application format.

About the author

Amy Thomas

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