We all know the feeling…you have completed all of the mandatory sections of your application form, meticulously scripting your answers so that they address as many of the essential and desired criteria as possible.
You have waded through your previous professional experience and education and described at length why you are the correct person for the job, only to be met with an A4 sized expanse of white headed paper with “Please provide any additional information which you think is relevant to your application”.
What on earth do you write? You could write nothing and hope that what you have already told them is enough to be granted an interview – but that could risk suggesting that you don’t care about the job enough to be bothered. You could simply repeat the information which you have already provided – but wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of “Additional information” ? It’s a minefield to say the least, but hopefully these few tips will help you to take full advantage of this opportunity and present yourself in the best possible light to these prospective employers.
What questions haven’t been asked?
The tricky thing about application forms is their specificity- they are designed to be more exacting about the information which they get from you than a standard CV, as the recruiters suggest the things they see as most relevant to the role under consideration. But this doesn’t mean that other attributes, skills and experience are not relevant and the additional information section is a great opportunity to show yourself as a candidate who has a clear understanding of the role and the tasks which will be involved in it. It is a good idea to sit down with the job description and tease out things which you think will be involved with the role but perhaps haven’t already been specifically addressed. The key is to make sure that any “Additional Information” has a purpose in your application form and can be linked back to the job description
Think about things like:
Previous work experience not directly related but illustrating or building upon your worth and ability as an employee
Previous voluntary experience – where not previously discussed
Hobbies and pastimes- especially unusual ones and those relevant to your professional life
What criteria don’t you meet exactly?
It’s a rare candidate who meets every single one of the essential and desirable criteria on a job specification and you may feel that whilst you do not meet one or two of them exactly, you have previous experience which more or less qualifies your ability in these areas. Look back at your application form and identify the ones which you haven’t fully addressed and take this opportunity to explain to the the employer why you, although lacking in a few areas, are worthy of being invited to interview for the role.
It is important here to make sure that the information you provide is truly furthering your application and not just ‘off the wall’ comparisons in a desperate attempt to bend the criteria to suit you. At best, this will be viewed as simply irrelevant but at worst it could suggest a lack of real understanding of the role and what it entails.
Your career trajectory
Filling in application forms can be a frustrating business, especially when they don’t offer an opportunity to express your passion, drive and genuine desire to be considered for the role. The additional information section can give you a chance to move your application away from the arbitrary details which everyone else has included and put a bit of a personal stamp on it.
If not already asked to do so it can be a good idea to establish the context of this career move in relation to your previous experience and the direction in which you hope your career will develop in the future. Most application forms will only allow you to state what you can do for an employer, and whilst this is of the utmost importance, suggesting what you think you have to gain from being employed in this role could help present you as a person who is truly engaged with their professional life and is keen to develop skills wherever they can.
But as with all of the information which you include in this section, make sure that what you state here is truly relevant, otherwise it could go down like the proverbial lead balloon.
Your effective use of written communication
Space is often limited within the sections of an application form, meaning that you may have to resort to bulleted lists in order to be succinct and fit in all of the information which you want. Luckily in most cases there will be plenty of room in the ‘additional information’ portion of the form which will allow you to demonstrate your skills of written communication. This is particularly important where “excellent written communication” has been cited in the essential criteria – you have already told the employer about your skills and now is your chance to show them. You should be meticulous about spelling, grammar, sentence structure and overall flow of the section making sure that it presents you as someone who is competent and confident in their abilities.
Hopefully you have found these general tips and advice useful and be sure to check out some of our other posts on completing application forms!