How to get your applications within their word limits

Jessica Booker

Legendary Member
Graduate Recruitment
Forum Team
Aug 1, 2019
5,492
7,825
After reviewing applications over the last 7-8 months, one of the most common issues for candidates is getting their answer within word limits. Often people find it difficult to cut their answers down, and in doing so usually cut out interesting content or points to ensure the answer meets any word limit criteria.

However, I notice that often people are using very long phrases to describe something and their verbosity throughout their answer means that this uses up the word count. If they were more ruthless with their phrases, saving 2-3 words per sentence, usually means by the end of a 300 word answer they have 30+ words that could be used to include more interesting or detailed content.

I thought it might be useful for me to post some of the regular phrases I am editing out of applications to allow you to see how you can potentially save yourself some extra words. Obviously you can keep them in if you want, it is just when you are struggling to say everything you want to, these can be the phrases/words you can often get rid of!

Original phrase
Shorter version
Number of words saved
"of the" - e.g. "the current finances of the business" or "working with members of the team"Use an apstrophe instead - e.g. "the business's current finances" or remove it entirely, "working with team members"
Two​
"In order to" - e.g. "In order to complete the task"To - e.g. "To complete the task"

In most instances, "In order" is completely redundant.
Two​
"my own" - e.g. "aligns with my own personal values"My - e.g. "aligns with my personal values"

The "own" in this context is redundant as you have used my to substantiate your ownership
One​
"allowed me to" - e.g "My role allowed me to demostrate my team working skills"Redundant - e.g. "My role demonstrated my team working skills"
Three​
"had the opportunity to" - e.g. "I had the opportunity to attend the 2020 Finance Conference"

Same goes for possibility
Redundant - e.g. "I attended the 2020 Finance Conference"
Four​
"would allow" - e.g. "The small trainee intake would allow trainees to have greater levels of responsibility"Replace "would" with an s at the end of allow - e.g. "The small trainee intake allows trainees to have greater levels of responsibility"
One​
"Was able to" - e.g. "I was able to utilise my communication skills"Redundant - just change the verb to past tense e.g. "I utilised my communication skills"
Three​
"Period of time" e.g. "During that period of time, I was responsible for..."Either time or period on its own still works - e.g. "During that period, I was responsible for..."
"During that time, I was responsible for..."
Two​
"Makes it clear that" e.g. "The 2020 Finance Award makes it clear that the firm leads in this practice area".Replace with demonstrates - e.g. "The 2020 Finance Award demonstrates that the firm leads in this practice area".
Two​
"the XXXX at" e.g. "My preference for the work at international firms..."Replace with an apstrophe - e.g. "My preference for international firms' work..."
Two​
"I went on to become" e.g. "I went on to become President of the Law Society"Just change to past tense - e.g. "I became President of the Law Society"
Three​
"I made the" e.g. "I made the decision to delegate to my colleagues".Redundant - just change the verb to past tense e.g. "I decided to delegate to my colleagues".
Two​
"Taking into account" e.g "By taking into account the financial aspects of the deal".Replace with considering, e.g. "By considering the financial aspects of the deal".
Two​
"Managed to" e.g. "We managed to complete the task on time".Redundant - just change the verb to past tense e.g. "We completed the task on time".
Two​
"not only" e.g. "It is not only important to build relationships with clients but also colleagues".Redundant - just remove and replace the but with and. e.g. - "It is important to build relationships with clients and colleagues".
Three​
"Across the world" e.g. "With offices across the world".Replace with worldwide - e.g. "With offices worldwide".
Two​
"Be able to" e.g. "Lawyers must be able to multitask and communicate effectively".Redundant - "Lawyers must multitask and communicate effectively".
Three​
"In spite of this""Despite this"
Two​
"I had to" e.g. "I had to engage with clients on a regular basis".Redundant - just change the verb to past tense e.g. "I engaged with clients on a regular basis".
Two​
"Take part""Participate"
One​
"Both" e.g. "I enjoy both litigation and transactional work"Redundant - "I enjoy litigation and transactional work"
One​
"involved in" e.g. "I was involved in the design of a new product"Replace with helped - e.g. "I helped with the design of a new product"
One​
"In the process of" e.g. "I was in the process of collecting data".Replace with when - e.g. "When I was collecting data"
Three​
Absolutely/Certainly/Completely/Definitely - e.g. "I absolutely agree with that concept". Redundant - "I agree with that concept".
One​
"All of the" e.g. "All of the team members agreed to the proposal"Redundant - "The team members agreed to the proposal"
Two​
"As to whether" e.g. "We were uncertain as to whether we should go ahead"."As to" is redundant - e.g. "We were uncertain whether we should go ahead".
Two​
"For the purpose of" e.g. "For the purpose of creating a new programme, we suggested"Replace with to - e.g. "To create a new programme, we suggested"
Three​
"Have the ability to" e.g. "I have the ability to communicate effectively with colleagues"Replace with can - e.g. "I can communicate effectively with colleagues"
Three​
Just/Really/Very/Even - e.g. "I really enjoyed my Contract law module" or "I even enjoyed Land law"Redundant - e.g. "I enjoyed my Contract law module" or "I enjoyed Land law"
One​
With regards/reference to - e.g. "With regards to my work experience"Change to regarding/referencing - e.g. "Regarding my work experience"
Two​
"The fact that" - e.g. "The fact that Joe Bloggs LLP have an office in China prompted me to apply"Redundant - e.g. "Joe Bloggs LLP's office in China prompted me to apply"
Five​
"Needless to say" e.g. "Needless to say, the firm's secondment opportunities are appealing".Redundant - e.g. "The firm's secondment opportunities are appealing".
Three​
"It is important to note" e.g. "It is important to note the firm's diversity policies are world-class"Redundant - e.g. "The firm's diversity policies are world-class"
Five​
"In the event of" e.g. "In the event of further lockdowns, I will continue to study remotely"Replace with if & happen - e.g. "In further lockdowns happen, I will continue to study remotely"
Two​
"conducted research" e.g. "I conducted research on the local economy"Conducted and on are redundant - e.g. "I researched the local economy"
Two​
"resulted in" e.g. "My efforts resulted in an increase in membership"Redundant - e.g. "My efforts increased membership"
Four​
"Successfully completed" e.g. "I successfully completed the marathon"Successfully is redundant - e.g. "I completed the marathon"
One​
"As a result of" e.g. "As a result of the latest lockdown, I have focused on training at home"Replace with "due to" or "because of" - e.g. "Due to the latest lockdown, I have focused on training at home"
Two​
"I was tasked with" e.g. "I was tasked with leading the group".Redundant - just change the verb to past tense e.g. "I led the group".
Three​
"In the midst of" e.g. "In the midst of my exams, I became unwell"Replace with during - e.g. "During my exams, I became unwell"
Three​
"At the present time" e.g. "At the present time, I am working as a paralegal"Replace with "at present" - e.g. "At present, I am working as a paralegal"
Two​
"During the course" e.g. "During the course of my studies, I held down a part-time job""the course of" is redundant - e.g. "During my studies, I held down a part-time job"
Three​
"End result" e.g. "The end result was that I achieved a first".End is redundant - e.g. "The result was that I achieved a first".
One​
"the entire" e.g. "Throughout the entire period of school, I was bullied".Redundant - e.g. "Throughout school, I was bullied".
Four​
"gives me the opportunity to" e.g. "Lockdown gives me the opportunity to spend more time with my family"Replace with allows - e.g. "Lockdown allows me to spend more time with my family"
Two​
Reached outReplace with "contacted"
One​
 
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