Top 5 Tips for Nailing a Job Application

In the coming months, we’ll be sharing a series of articles written by Sunni Lekh, currently on his University placement with IBM as European Recruitment Marketing Coordinator. His story begins with top 5 tips for nailing a job application.

Top 5 Tips for Nailing a Job Application

By Sunni Lekh


I’m currently a student on my University Placement here at IBM and once completed I will be joining the large number of applicants searching for a Graduate Scheme, so I thought where better to look for great application advice than here from real professionals within one of the most reputable organisations for entry-level job hunters. I have scouted IBMers all across Europe varying from Business Leaders, Graduates and Recruitment Team Members to put together this list of application tips to help us nail the dream job application.

I asked the IBMers below one simple question ‘What is your best tip for entry level applications?” and these were their responses:

Passion and embracing individuality.

 “Follow your heart and intuition. This will bring you to your passion which is the key for success!” Oliver Ottow – HR Leader Talent Acquisition, IBM Europe

“Think about what you can write to highlight yourself as a stand-out applicant and keep it interesting. Don’t underestimate your experiences outside of academia, it is this personal information that will differentiate you from others.” Shannon Diment – European Recruitment – Attraction, Branding & Marketing Lead, IBM Europe

“If you have a disability either hidden and/or visible please tell the recruitment team and we will make sure your needs are accommodated if you are selected for an assessment centre and/or interview.” Deborah Richards – Diversity & Inclusion Leader UK & Ireland, IBM UK


“Do your research on IBM, make sure you know what the coolest things we are doing today are. Don’t focus on IBM’s history, focus on IBM today. Take a look at our recruitment social channels as we are always posting the latest news to help candidates. Then, when you have an interview, or in your application form, you will be able to talk about the direction IBM is heading and why you want to work here.” Ella Slade – Global Recruitment Communications Specialist, IBM Global

“People often ask what language they should write their application? The best advice is, that candidates should write in the same language as the job posting.” Sophie Asmus – Employer Branding / Social Media Manager “IBM Karriere & Jobs”, Studienreferentin, IBM Germany

Clarity of content

“My advice would be to be clear and concise in your answers to the IBM practices questions. Follow a model of Action, Result, Impact. What did YOU do in the situation? What result did your action have? Did it impact the situation in a way that changed the outcome had you not had an input? Every IBMer is challenged by our CEO to be essential, so demonstrate that in your answers.” Steve Moss – UKI HR Business Operations Specialist Graduate, HR Centre of Excellence, IBM UK

“Use the S-T-A-R format – Situation, Task, Action & Result! I found this stopped me rambling and showed how my examples could help the company I was applying to and not just how these experiences had benefitted me!” Katy Turner – Schools & Universities Attraction Coordinator – Marketing, IBM UK

‘Your application should be precise, when writing about what you have done keep it simple, to the point and explain what YOU actually did (not what the group did). Also remember that the person reading your application might not know what certain things mean so make sure you explain the context and what that means.” Elle Davison – Workforce Strategy Graduate Consultant, Human Resources, IBM UK

“Candidates should aim for concise answers, focusing on the situation they were in, the task they had to complete, the actions they took and the results of these. We often find the best examples come when a candidate has considered their experiences from a whole range of activities including school, college, university, work, social and family life, volunteering, hobbies etc and chosen the one which best demonstrates that skill. it might be something which happened yesterday, or 10 years ago!” Kelly Markwick – IBM UK Schools & Universities Attraction Manager, IBM UK

Check and double-check

“Don’t forget the simple stuff!  Check and double-check your application to ensure there are no spelling/grammatical/other mistakes that could jeopardise your application. First impressions count!” Mandy Crouch, HR Projects, IBM UK

 “Check the company name is correct – we have had candidates who want to work for IMB and also for other companies because they have copied/pasted information into their application!” Rosemary Clunie – Recruitment Manager, IBM UK

 “Check, double check and triple check your application form for any typos or spelling mistakes. Then, get your parents  to check it too!” Gary Beattie – Senior Manager IBM Early Professionals Programmes, IBM UK

There is loads of great information here from my fellow IBMers, so I have summarised these to create a concise list of 5 top tips to nail any application.

  1. Passion is key! – Let that show in your application especially when telling an organisation why you’d like to work for them
  2. Your differences should be embraced – your employers are there to help you so let them know if you have any requirements.
  3. RESEARCH IS VITAL! – You can never know too much about an organisation and let this knowledge shine.
  4. Be clear and concise in your answers. Using a technique such as STAR or anything else can make sure you have great logical answers.
  5. You can never check your applications too many times – don’t let one small error ruin your chances.

These tips will ultimately help you conquer any application and get you one step closer to that future job. On October the 18th we are running an ‘Application Advice Recruitment Clinic’ on our LinkedIN IBM Student Room so feel free to join in on the conversation. We will be sharing even more application tips and replying to any burning questions you may have! Thanks for reading.

To keep up to date with our career opportunities and other IBM news, connect with us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle+ and LinkedIn.

Discover what you can do at IBM

#IBMCampusHiring #IBMGraduateLife #TopTip #InclusiveIBM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.