Featured Common mistakes on application forms.....

Discussion in 'Applications Discussion' started by Jessica Booker, Nov 7, 2019.

  1. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    I thought I might start a thread where I just list out some of the simple/small mistakes that are often made in applications. I will add to this thread as and when I am reading applications or reminded of points that come up.

    Please note most of these are common mistakes made by a lot of candidates! Some of them aren't necessarily "mistakes" as such, some will just be things that are completely unnecessary and can be cut from forms (useful if you are trying to get word count down)….

    So here goes.....
     
    #1 Jessica Booker, Nov 7, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
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  2. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    "When I was at University".....

    University does not need a capital U in this instance. It is only if you are using the formal name of your university, e.g The University of Manchester, that a capital U is needed
     
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  3. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    Know your difference between LED and LEAD. I'd go as far as suggesting people search for "led" and "lead" in their document as part of the proof-reading process to check whether you are using the right version for your sentence ;)
     
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  4. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    "In order to" is an overused and un-necessary phrase. You can shorten this to "to" in 99.99% of cases
     
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  5. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    "I had the opportunity to" is another completely redundant phrase.... avoid it where you can!

    "I had the opportunity to learn more about the complex legal matters the firm works on"

    can easily become

    "I learnt about the complex legal matters the firm works on".

    “I had the opportunity to” also suggests that you may not have taken that opportunity up!
     
    #5 Jessica Booker, Nov 7, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
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  6. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    Avoid those US spellings (unless you are applying to the US office of a firm).

    Most applications will flit between organized/organised, utilized/utilised, analysed/analyzed, center/centre, recognised/reconized, check/cheque, learned/learnt, judgment/judgement, fulfil/fulfill, defense/defence, licence/license etc

    Spell check software can often miss these, or you can have them set up in the wrong "English" language, so triple check for consistency
     
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  7. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    General rule with numbers:

    When writing numbers, the general rule is that whole numbers below 10 should always be spelled out. You would assert that there are "three cars" or "eight baseballs."

    Numbers 10 and above should be written in numeral form: "21 bugs," "52 cards."

    When a number below 10 is grouped with a number above 10, the rule for the higher number takes precedence: "8 to 12 weeks."
     
    #7 Jessica Booker, Nov 7, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
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  8. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    Be mindful of phrases like “I feel”, “I think”, “I may”. In many cases, it is important to try to sound more certain!
     
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  9. gricole

    gricole Legendary Member
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    I appreciate this point but how would one avoid repetition? I often feel that my writing becomes repetitive in applications when I use I learnt; I found out; I gained an insight into etc. The phrase "I had the opportunity" may carry a slightly different meaning too - it may mean that you went the extra mile to get an opportunity and you utilised it. This shows initiative too.
     
  10. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    Including “I had the opportunity to” ahead of those phrases won’t make it less repetitive.

    “I took the initiative”, “I asked” or “I explored” will be far more powerful than “I had the opportunity to”
     
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  11. gricole

    gricole Legendary Member
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    Thank you for the clarification. I wasn't referring to a situation where you put "I had the opportunity" before the phrases. I get that this is just waffle. Rather I was referring to something on the lines of:

    I did XYZ whilst working in X firm. Because of what I did and the way I did it, I received positive reviews and/or a bonus. This meant that I had the opportunity to do ABC.

    In this scenario, the phrase "I had the opportunity to" is used to emphasise that ABC was only possible to do because of you going the extra mile with XYZ. For instance, ABC could be that you went to an additional meeting, you were given the chance to contribute to a project in a different way etc. One can then go on to say "I took the initiative"; "I asked"; "I learnt" etc depending on the type of activity that ABC was.
     
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  12. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    On CVs

    REFERENCES: Available upon request

    Don't bother including this - it is a complete waste of a line space. Recruiters know they will get references from you at the relevant time
     
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  13. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    Better way to phrase it:

    I did XYZ whilst working in X firm. Because of what I did and the way I did it, I received positive reviews and/or a bonus. This led to me doing ABC.
     
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  14. gricole

    gricole Legendary Member
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    Thank you! That clears it up.
     
  15. iamjeeoh

    iamjeeoh Star Member

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    What’s your opinion on writing in prose? I get the feeling a lot of TC applicants tend to not to write how they would actually speak.

    Also why are firms so keen on candidates utilising the word count and question candidates who don’t use it all.
     
  16. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    I would hate to write how I speak. I waffle much more when I talk than when I write. But you should write in prose. Prose can be different to the way you speak though.

    I’m not convinced the last paragraph is true... where did that idea come from?

    Edit: got a comment on LinkedIn from Samantha Hope at Shoosmiths - she recommends people utilise the word count, but she pointed out it is more a case of when you go significantly under the word count (eg less than 50% of it) that it can create questions.

    I agree with that. There will be some exceptions though. For instance if you put an open day as a work experience entry and that has a 300+ word limit to it, I wouldn’t expect for it to all be used. Also if there is a “is there any further information you want to provide” question and you haven’t got any further information, then again that doesn’t really count. I think when word counts matter is more of the clear/direct questions they are asking you to answer. Then I would recommend aiming to get to at least 70%+ of the word count limit
     
    #16 Jessica Booker, Nov 8, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
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  17. iamjeeoh

    iamjeeoh Star Member

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    Just when you see advice on their websites about “use the word count”. Like one particular firm I remember left 500 words for hobbies/extra curricular/interests. I mean, if you work full time and have a long commute to work and not a lot of disposable income, in this day and age, it can be difficult to talk about that stuff on an application form without sounding boring or lazy (albeit I don’t think it’s an employers place to judge candidate on what they do outside of work because it’s not really any of their business, unless it’s related to the business).

    For instance I enjoy cooking. I cook for fun, but considering how staple cooking is to nearly everyone’s lives there’s no real value in discussing it in detail; also a lot of my sporting hobbies are not competitive, so discussing the details and how they relate to skills is difficult.

    Word counts are annoying...
     
  18. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    See my edit above

    They might be annoying, but they are completely necessary.

    Extra curriculars are not just about what you do now, they can be things you have done in the past. Cooking is definitely something to include in that section though. Your sporting achievements don’t need to be competitive. I think you are probably under selling it.

    But even then, for someone with limited extra curriculars, if they see you are someone whose holding down a part time job, commuting to uni etc, their expectations completely shift. They are human - they understand your time will be far more limited than the person who is just doing an 8 hour course and living on campus.
     
    #18 Jessica Booker, Nov 9, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
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  19. iamjeeoh

    iamjeeoh Star Member

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    Thanks Jessica, it’s reassuring to hear things from your perspective - definite confidence boost when it comes to writing these pesky apps!
     
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  20. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    On a CV make sure you formatting is consistent. Whether it be heading formats, indentations, line spacing, use of dashes, date formats etc, make sure it is consistent as it will visually look more professional.

    The format painter option on Word is a good tool to ensure things are consistent.
     
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