Even though the early stages of applications are now moving towards online testing in many FRS, a traditional application form is still a crucial component of many Firefighter job applications, whether you are applying to join the Service or it’s the first step in your firefighter promotions process.
We’re passionate about helping aspiring firefighters brush up their application skills. To help you out we’ve listed some of the top errors we see again and again in our Application eBook, ones that you might not even be aware are there!
1. Spelling Mistakes
We don’t just mean spelling mistakes in your summary here – any spelling mistakes in any section are a big no-no for the recruitment team.
Some of the most common errors we’ve seen are in the educational and employment history sections, with errors like ‘college’ spelled with only one ‘l’.
Your computer or word processing software’s spellcheck will usually do a pretty good job of correcting basic errors but it’s best not to rely on it completely.
Also be aware that your spellcheck might be set to ‘American English’ spelling and could automatically correct words like ‘recognise’ or ‘colour’ to their American counterparts.
2. Grammatical Errors
Similarly don’t rely on your device’s grammar checker – it’s not always 100% accurate.
If you’re not sure then CHECK, and make sure you know the difference between the uses of words that sound the same like there, they’re and their or to and too – these are some of the areas where we see errors coming up again and again!
3. Too Much Information
Remember that your application should be concise –and not include irrelevant information.
It’s better to just mention the most relevant work and life experiences you’ve had – in effect tailoring your description of your experiences to the position.
Brainstorm on a separate piece of people, look at the job requirements and have a good think about what might be the most suitable things to mention.
On the flipside giving too little information is another mistake – when you’re listing a workplace or educational establishment don’t just list the name and dates you attended – add a sentence with brief details the most relevant qualifications or experiences.
4. Over-Inflated Claims
While we would advise you to tailor the experiences you mention to the position on offer we can’t emphasise enough the danger of lying or over-exaggerating claims on your application!
If something doesn’t ring true it will immediately flag up – for example saying that you had an unrealistic amount of responsibility for a previous job position you’ve put down, or that you solved a problem that you clearly wouldn’t have had the authority to deal with in that role.
5. Generic Phrases
The language in your application should be professional but avoid using generic or ‘buzz’ phrases, especially without any evidence to back them up.
Saying you’re a ‘dynamic and adaptable’ employee doesn’t mean much on its own – the recruiters will want to know WHY you consider yourself to be like this, and to read proof from previous experiences to back this up.
Other generic phrases we see a lot of include ‘I work well individually and as part of a team’ and ‘I consider myself a team player’.
A much better way to put this would be to say something like ‘I have strong teamworking skills as seen in my employment with xxx’ then to give details of the most relevant team-working experience you had in this position, effectively backing your claim up.
6. Gaps in employment
If you have any large gaps in your employment history put in a brief sentence to explain why, and what you did or achieved during this time.
Unexplained gaps are a huge red flag to recruiters, as a steady employment history marks you as a reliable candidate.
Of course it’s not a problem if you took a year off to go travelling, or to go back to college, or even to have children – but make sure you fill in all the gaps!
The Firefighter job market is more competitive than ever, with hundreds of applicants for each position. So it’s so, so important that your application reflects your true potential!
After all your application will be one of the first impressions the recruitment team get of you – so make sure this impression is a good one!