I need help completing a UK style job application form.
January 31, 2012 2:42 PM Subscribe
(US union staffer returning to London and looking for a job) was me. Since then I've found a job opening that's absolutely perfect... but I need to fill out a UK style application form, and having spent my whole career in the US, I need some advice.
posted by crabintheocean to Work & Money (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm applying for a job that's absolutely spot on for my skills and experience - if I wrote a description of what I've been doing for the last five years, this would be it! It's with an organisation I respect, the money is great, and there aren't a lot of people locally who do what I do. Friendly overtures to the department that's recruiting make it look like I would at least be seriously considered. This is a senior (but not top of the ladder) management position that would have me responsible for about 20 people and executing the organisation's strategy for a region.
So now I have to actually apply, and it's an unfamiliar process for me. In the US we generally send a resume (CV) that lists past experience, and a cover letter that explains how we're excited about the opportunity and perfect for the role. This organisation (large non-profit) has sent me a "Person Specification" listing desired personal qualities like "able to handle conflict and competing priorities", and a "Job Description" describing what the role means, eg "working with the department to develop a regional plan". I need to take this info about what they're looking for, and fill out an application form that has an area for a work history, and a large blank area to describe how you meet the requirements.
I have a few questions that Google isn't helping with, as every site that comes up is too generic and too focused on applying for very junior roles:
1) How comprehensive does the chronological work history need to be? Do I need to include very early jobs that weren't related to my career path, but which I would mention at interview because I would be referring to my union membership during that time?
2) I have two gaps in my work history. The first was a couple of years ago, when after leaving one job I took a course unrelated to my career path because I was considering changing careers, before being recruited for another career path job and becoming more certain I'll stick with what I've been doing. It means I have a neat, but unrelated qualification. It's a gap of about 9 months that I could theoretically cover up if I can just list years of employment, not months. How would you handle this?
The other is that I haven't worked for the past year, because I had a baby and I've been home with him. If I had been in the UK I would have been on maternity leave, but that essentially doesn't exist here, so I chose not to be employed. Do I list the last year in the history or do I let my work history end in December 2010, and explain in the interview? Or something else? As a woman in my field in the US, putting on an application that you had a young child would be the kiss of death, but my Mum (who works in the public sector) is telling me the gap will scare them more, and would stop me getting an interview.
3) Any tips on that long free-form part appreciated. I've been told that any way of completing it that makes sense will work - is that so? My instinct is to treat it like a very detailed and specific cover letter, and to break it down into thematic paragraphs that address most of their bullet points in total, but don't go through them one-by-one.
4) One last especially stupid question! The form wants the names and addresses of all my past employers. Does it literally want the full postal address, or just the city?
Any advice from those with relevant UK experience appreciated, thanks. It's weird to be a British mid-career professional who has essentially no work experience in my home country!