The rules of digital applications

15th January 2010 at 00:00
Apply online. Type, click, succeed in 10 easy steps

Rule 1: Keep it formal

Online applications can feel impersonal, but this doesn't mean you can cut corners. Make sure you write in proper sentences.

Rule 2: Handle with care

If you can, print off the application first and fill it in on paper as a draft, or copy and paste the questions and type up your answers. You can then copy and paste them in. Don't forget to check for word limits. Use the spellcheck, but don't use this as a substitute for reading it thoroughly - typing "form" instead of "from" is very easily done.

Rule 3: Crack their code

Check the job description for keywords - such as "organised", "liaised", "creative", "innovative" - and make sure you use them (appropriately) in your application.

Rule 4: Always keep a copy

Before you press send, hit print and make a file copy for each application you do. When it comes to the interview stage you'll be glad you did.

Rule 5: Check the deadline

There is nothing worse than spending lots of time on a position that closed last week. You can't rely on the website to have closed the entry portal on the right day.

Rule 6: Quality not quantity

Don't bang out 10 online applications in an afternoon - you're better off spending quality time on a handful of applications and doing them really well in the same amount of time. Martyn Best, managing director at Hays Education, says: "Each application needs to be tailored to the role; increased competition for jobs means that employers can be far more specific about what they want. It is, therefore, crucial that you spend time drawing upon your competencies that match those listed within the job profile."

Rule 7: Avoid language barriers

Double check your software settings are for English UK and not English US.

Rule 8: Highlight your IT skills

As an NQT, chances are you're likely to be more of a digital native than some of the existing staff members, so make sure you highlight your abilities in this area. Just completing the application online won't demonstrate your capabilities fully.

Rule 9: Don't forget to mention extra-curricular activities

These can be a real selling point for you. Make sure you look at the school's website first to see how your interests fit with the schools, and prioritise them accordingly.

Rule 10: Make the most of your personal statement

And make sure it is personal to each position before you copy and paste it in. Mr Best says: "This is your chance to showcase your skills, detailing how you meet the functional and behavioural competencies contained within the job description and person specification. Don't waste it."


  • Don't leave the subject line of your email blank.
  • Don't lapse into informality just because it is email. Use "Dear" not "Hi" and a formal closing greeting, not "thanks" or "best".
  • Don't save your CV as "CV.doc" - rename the file to include your name.
  • Do send the CV as an attachment, but make sure the covering letter forms the main body of the email.
  • Do double check you've attached all the documents before you hit send.
  • Don't use a non-standard font. Do use a sans serif font like Arial that looks best on screen, which is likely to be how your CV is first read.
  • Do remove the witty and hilarious signature line from your email.
  • Do set up a new email account for job applications - keep the hilarious email addresses for the weekend.
  • Do remember to check your new email address.
  • Don't add in personal details such as date of birth or marital status into your CV if it is to be emailed, as email is not secure.
  • Don't use images on your CV - it is unprofessional and unpredictable as different software programs may scramble images.
  • Do check your "Sent items" or "Outbox" to make sure the email has been sent.
  • Do make sure you have accounted for any gaps in employment history.

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