Write drunk, edit sober.

Applications forms: How to keep your word count to a minimum.

I was asked recently about how best to keep within a word count limit on application forms. My first instinct was to shudder; I’m not a fan! Application forms serve a purpose in an organisation whose size requires them to follow a systematic approach to applicant tracking but as a rule, I dislike them. They no more represent the human being you might work with on a day to day basis than the job description represents the real-life day to day challenges and objectives of the role they are applying for. But I digress…

If you do find yourself in the situation where you have to complete an application form and much like the first few times you ventured onto Twitter find yourself incapacitated by the word count, my top 3 tips are this:

  1. It is imperative that you endeavour to keep your word usage to an absolute minimum.

Keep it simple. Don’t use 5 words where 3 would suffice. If you can remove a word and the sentence still make sense, remove it!



  1. Treat it like a trailer

Imagine the interview for this prospective role as a movie of your career, life and skill set. More career and skill set. Let’s be honest, the interviewer won’t need an insight into the awkward teenager who had their head flushed at high school or an in-depth account into that night in Andalucía! You should imagine the interview to be like a movie and the application form is the trailer. You need to make them want to buy a ticket!



  1. Write drunk, edit sober.

Now we’re not openly advocating you write under the influence. But there is some truth in what Hemmingway said. Don’t worry too much about the first draft; it’s not going to be perfect first time. As Hemmingway suggests rattle off a first draft then leave it alone for a while and come back with a fresh pair of eyes.


If you would like any more advice on this or any other aspects of job searching, HR or Recruitment please get in touch.

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