Job Application Question

by Edel
(N. Ireland)

I have been asked in my application form for the post of trainee accountant to demonstrate a high level of drive and development potential and I am unsure of how to approach the question. Can you give me any tips or information on what the employer might be looking for?

Lisa's Response to "Job Application Question"

One of the key words I'd take from the employer's request is "demonstrate".

Whether it's a resume or a job application form, one of the most common mistakes people make on applications lies in failing to "demonstrate" their skills and accomplishments. A simple list of your past and/or current job duties doesn't demonstrate much about the way you perform those duties.

A strong application for any job is one in which you have managed to "prove your brags".

The best way to do that is to be as specific as possible about your skills and experience, particularly, in this case, those that demonstrate drive and development potential, as this is what is important to this particular employer.

Avoid simply listing past job duties and responsibilities; be sure to note specific accomplishments which demonstrate your drive and development potential. Quantify (provide numbers/statistics) as much as possible; measurable accomplishments will make a more powerful impact on your application than generalizations.

For example, in order to demonstrate drive and development potential, you may want to highlight specific times when you:

  • Earned increased responsibility at work or, if you are launching your career, at school
  • Initiated successful projects which added value to the company
  • Exceeded expectations

Avoid simple generalizations such as:
  • Work well in a team environment
  • Manage time efficiently
  • Detail oriented
  • Self starter

It's easy to say those things on an application, so this kind of generalization does not do a lot to demonstrate to an employer that you possess those characteristics. Common generalizations don't mean a lot if you don't back them up with examples.

Instead, use specific examples such as:

Initiated and developed customized spreadsheet system which decreased data entry time by 20% and automatically cross referenced data to eliminate errors.
Developed improved work processes which resulted in corporate savings of $25,000 annually.

Statements like these demonstrate that you take initiative and add value to your organization in a way that is more powerful than simple generalizations.

In order to turn statements about job duties into more specific accomplishment statements, consider the results you achieved with each job duty you have listed.

For each task that you performed, ask yourself how you added value to the company when you performed the task.
  • Did you bring any special skill or insight to the task?
  • What was the result of that?
  • Can you identify improvements you made to processes?
  • Can you quantify those improvements?

To satisfy the employer's interest in your drive and development potential, think specifically about ways in which you showed initiative and/or exceeded expectations, and, as much as possible, back up each statement with measurable facts.

Click here to post comments

Return to Ask a Career or Job Search Question.