Employers have various ways of asking you to apply for a position. Some employers use application forms, others might ask you to submit a letter of application and/or a CV

These applications are then used for ‘short listing’ to decide which applicants will be asked to attend an interview.

Which ever format you are asked to use, your job is to sell yourself and make yourself stand out from the crowd. To do this, it helps to understand some of the terminology of recruitment documents.

   Job Description: a full description of the job

   Person Specification: a description of the skills, qualifications and knowledge a person needs to perform the job duties (which should be taken from the job description).

• Job Profile: an overview of the job

• Role Profile: a blend of the job description and the person specification

Imagine the employer being faced with a pile of application letters and forms and also the details of the job he/she is trying to fill and a description of the person he/ she is looking for – how are they going to respond to your application?

You need to make yourself noticed as the perfect applicant! As far as possible address every point in the job description and person specification, give examples and be specific about your experience and skills. This is not the time to be too modest. It is, however, very important not to embellish the truth! This will eventually catch up with you and can cost you your job if you have been dishonest, you can even go to prison in some circumstances. Ask someone who knows you well to read what you have written and ask them to give you some feedback.


If you are writing a letter, do it properly – date it, address it and lay it out correctly. If necessary, look up how to do this. Sometimes a letter will accompany an application form or a CV and this might be handwritten – make sure your handwriting is legible. If you are submitting a letter and an application form or CV, your letter should complement these other documents not repeat them.

Application Forms

If you are completing an application form, it can be a good idea to have a rough copy first. Can you scan it and complete it digitally?


If you are submitting a CV, make sure it is up to date and try to match your experience and skills to the job that is being advertised. It should not be more than two sides, it needs to be attractive (but formal) and have some white space. Use a clear and simple font, nothing too fancy. You are trying to make it as easy as possible for someone to read. Include voluntary work and experiences outside of employment if it is relevant. Check the dates very carefully and make sure there are no periods of time unaccounted for. Make sure your dates are in chronological order.

Make sure you ask your referees for their permission to use their name and contact details before you submit your application.

Proof read everything (several times)!

Keep a copy; there is nothing more difficult than being asked about something you have written and not being able to remember what you said. Use a spell checker, but still proof read it.

Make sure your application has all your contact details: email address, home address and contact telephone numbers. A word of caution about your email address – having an amusing or dodgy email address does not create a good impression. Think about the image you are portraying.

You do not normally need to include your date of birth or a photograph.

Good Luck!


Nicky Ackerley BA(Hons)

Nicky is the owner of HR Support Consultancy. She has a BA(Hons) in Business Studies, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and has been a practising HR manager for more than 20 years. HR Support Consultancy has provided the BVNA Members Advisory Service (formerly known as the Industrial Relations Service) since it began in 2002.

VOL 34 • April 2019 • Veterinary Nursing Journal