These forms can often be quite daunting and are usually fairly difficult and time consuming to complete.
How To Make Yours A Winner
There is no getting around the fact that most application forms are designed to be challenging. That said, there are some key things that, once you understand and apply them, will help you rise to the challenge.
There follows our quick guide to submitting a winning application form:
Start with research
Before you decide which application forms to complete you must fully research the different types of firms and areas of law available to you.
A lack of genuine, well thought out reasons for applying to specific firms is one of the more common reasons why candidates fail to get past the application form stage.
You must therefore spend plenty of time doing your research before you even pick up your first application. This includes online research, taking to lawyers and trainees at law fairs and open days, doing legal work experience and anything else that can help you understand your options better.
Don’t fall at the first hurdle
Ensure you have checked that your qualifications satisfy the firm’s minimum entry requirements.
If they don’t you might as well find this out at the outset and save wasting time on applications to those firms who will reject you as a matter of course (unless there are exceptional circumstances). If you really want to apply to a firm but don’t meet its minimum requirements contact the firm to explain your circumstances and ask if they will consider an application from you.
Focus on quality not quantity
It is much better to take more time over less application forms rather than aiming to get as many done as you can. You must remember that you will be competing against other candidates who will have taken considerable time over their applications so you must do the same.
Be sure to start your application forms well in advance of the deadlines to avoid a last minute rush or worse still missing the deadline – this is sure to be a nail in the coffin of your application.
Some firms recruit on a rolling basis throughout the year so you may find your chances are greater the earlier in the year you apply anyway.
Eye for detail
It is imperative that you pay close attention to every detail in your application.
Ensure that you read and re-read every question and request for information and prepare draft answers before reviewing and editing.
Ensure you answer every aspect of each question as it is common that parts of questions are not addressed sufficiently, or at all, and this will count against you.
Aim to stand out from the crowd
This does not mean use gimmicks or fancy fonts but rather to focus on highlighting your unique set of skills and attributes by using examples from your own life.
Remember they want to know about YOU not themselves so be sure to tell them about you and not just how much you have found out about them.
Ensure your forms are neat and legible – use paragraphs to split up large blocks of text and make it easier for a recruiter to review.
Ensure all spelling and grammar is correct. If completing an on-line form prepare your answers in a separate document first and use spell check to pick up any mistakes before copying across into the form (but don’t rely solely on spell check – its very easy to include Americanized spellings if you do!).
Be sure to stick to any set word limits as anything over the limit may be automatically cut from on-line forms.
Take your time
You should view each application as a significant piece of work and allocate the necessary time to it. Applications are too important to just try to knock off in a couple of hours.
You are much better to set aside a few days so that you can put plenty of time into it as well as giving time to put it to one side and come back to it with a clear head to review it.
You may be surprised how it reads when you read it back fresh – you will also pick up any mistakes more easily this way.
Phone a friend
Often when we work on something so hard and for so long we cease to be objective about it. Therefore, it is always beneficial to have a friend or a career advisor to review your draft application before you finalise it.
They may well spot mistakes that you have missed or give some other valuable input to help you improve your training contract application.
One To One Help With Your Search For A Training Contract
If you are struggling to succeed with your training contract applications, interviews or assessment centres in the current market one to one help is available.