Tips on making an application your own
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Whether you are applying for an insight evening, vacation scheme or training contract, you are likely to encounter an application form at some point. Whether it is your first or twentieth time completing an application, ensuring that it not only caters to the firm but also reflects your personality is an essential step towards future success. Everybody has something different to offer and will complete applications in their own way – and this is something you shouldn’t be afraid to embrace either!
The most important step is to avoid writing what you think recruiters want to hear if it simply isn’t who you are or what you believe. Making an application your own and a true reflection of who you are is the first step to introducing yourself in an honest, insightful and intriguing way, and will hopefully encourage the firm to want to get to know you further!
However, this is often a balancing act between ensuring that your application is personalised, but also relevant and illustrative of your achievements. To this end, here are some tips to hopefully help you get started!
Take the time to reflect on your experiences
If you’re asked to outline a time that you demonstrated a certain skill or what you learnt from a particular experience, it is very tempting to dive straight into your answer with a feeling that you know which skills the question might be hinting at. However, taking a minute or two to gather your thoughts can help you truly recognise what you gained from an experience and articulate this in a personal way.
Everything you have experienced will have had an impact on you in one way or another, and there are no right or wrong answers to which skills you gained from a particular experience. While it’s important to consider the types of skill firms are looking for and those which are fundamental to a career as a lawyer, don’t forget to take the time to consider, in greater detail, how you acquired those skills, how they have played a part in your journey and how they have been significant in your personal development.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box
Questions come in all forms and some provide an opportunity to answer more personally than others. When a question encourages you to provide a personal response, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. You want your application to stand out and demonstrating your own perspective will allow you to produce a truly personal application that will be clear to the reader.
For example, you may be asked to describe a time that you failed to achieve something or about your greatest achievement to date. These types of question are the perfect place to show that you have taken your time with the application and made it your own. An answer might not pop into your head straight away, but don’t panic – take your time and be creative!
Your example might not be an obvious one, but it is not necessarily the nature of the failure or achievement that is the focus. How you reflect on these events creates a more truthful representation of your experiences – the good and the bad – and helps to reveal parts of your personality.
Read your completed application as though it is your autobiography
For a firm reading your application it is almost like they are reading a condensed autobiography. What you write is an introduction to who you are, what you’ve done and what you have to offer. When you are re-reading your application, consider whether it truly reflects who you are and your journey so far.
Be proud of your achievements and don’t be afraid to let this show in your answers. Applications are not a test of who you think you should be – they are a way for firms to show a genuine interest in finding out who you are!
It might also be helpful to bear in mind that your application will set you up for any future encounters with the firm. Any interviews later in the process may well be centred on your application and ensuring that the person they are expecting matches up with who they meet is important. If you are later asked about something you wrote, you need to be able to talk about it passionately – making it personal beforehand will make this a lot more natural and help you feel at ease.