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Here are some tips when you're preparing your application for your next job to help you make the most of your time.

For a start, you should find out exactly which methods potential employers use to recruit. For instance, criminal justice and public sector employers will only accept applications by application form. So you’ll save time by not needing to get a CV together when targeting a job in this sector. However, having a CV is a very useful tool for changing jobs and careers.

Commercial sector organisations, as a rule, request CVs. There are many schools of thought on what makes a great CV - here's our advice on writing your CV, which focuses on creating a CV that will get you to the interview stage. 

Application forms

While many people view their CV as never quite finished and more as 'work in progress', completing an application form is usually a one-off, which takes time and attention to detail.

Most employers tend to prefer you to complete and submit your application online as it makes the process more cost-effective and immediate.

Whether you plan to apply online or on paper, you should first complete the questions in draft form. Make sure you spell check the draft, then leave it and come back later to check and edit when your mind is fresh.

Competency based applications

Application forms, in the main, ask you to evidence you have the competencies, usually detailed in the ‘person specification’ section, for the particular job you’re applying for. This means the employer has broken the job down in to its separate tasks and questions give you the opportunity to evidence your competence and abilities to complete tasks, duties and responsibilities. When answering this style of question, make sure you use examples from across your employment history and work experiences.

And finally, before you email or post it, make sure you've answered every question that you should have and - if it’s your only version - remember to take a photocopy.