You should choose an application approach that will suit the kind of people you want to recruit and that will help you when you shortlist applications.
A CV and cover letter
This is the approach most people are familiar with. However, it can be difficult to shortlist from these documents as everybody’s CVs and letters will be a bit different. CVs can be hard to interpret if they are from an unfamiliar profession or industry and it can be tricky to see if their skills are transferable to your charity.
Also, CVs may not demonstrate many of the qualities you seek, such as lived experience or passion for your cause. Give candidates clear instructions to include these points in their cover letter, so that you are able to identify and shortlist people with the attributes that you actually need.
Using an application form
This can be a good way to get applicants to give you the information that is most relevant for shortlisting. For example, you could ask: ‘Why do they want to be a trustee of your charity?’ or ‘What is their experience of volunteering?’
However, application forms can deter applicants. Forms require extra administrative effort from applicants, and they can seem bureaucratic and old fashioned. People often find it off putting if their first interaction with your charity is form filling so they could cause people to drop out at this stage.
Asking applicants to answer specific questions
Ask people to reply to questions that are designed to demonstrate the attributes that you are looking for and shortlist based on their responses alone. This approach can make shortlisting easier and it significantly reduces unconscious bias because it is focused only on an applicant's attributes. However, working out the questions you want to ask does mean investing more time up front. Reach Volunteering has recruited staff using this approach.