10 Tips for filling out an Online Job Application
Nov 11, 2023
Online job applications can involve lengthy application forms & aptitude tests or they can also be a simple case of sending a CV and cover letter by email.
In this article, we cover what to expect when applying online & useful tips for your online applications.
Most mid – large size companies nowadays are going to use online applications. These companies use computers to scan your application and rank you based on the information you include in said application. So you really want to be sure you are filling this out the best you possibly can to increase your chances of a hiring manager actually seeing your information. If you’re filtered out before he/she even gets to the initial screening, you aren’t going to get a shot at making an impression.
If your application doesn’t show up as a match, it is likely it won’t even be seen by a recruiter. Your details might stay on the database for future reference, but you won’t be considered for the role you’re interested in.
1 – Plan dedicated time to fill out the application
Online applications take some time. It’s tempting to just upload your application and whip through it but you really need to invest sometime to accurately fill out the application. It can feel like a big task but the investment can be well worth the reward when you land the right job. Don’t rush through it; you wouldn’t want a potential employer to think you’d approach your work responsibilities in the same manner. It can be a process but the good news is, most companies will keep your online application on file with your own, unique log in information so you can apply for other positions in the same company and have the same base application that you just personalize for each position. It’s just the time to get that initial online application completed.
2 – Be prepared
Have a clean copy of your CV, references and ALL past employer information and employment dates in a word document. This document should be free of formatting; no bullets, special text styles, etc. This is just to make it really easy for you to copy and paste your information into the online application. Then you’ll want to have your “pretty” version saved to a pdf of your CV , references, cover letter, etc. to upload where requested. It’s tempting to have the online application search your resume and fill in information for you but I’ve found they really aren’t that accurate when you use a pdf version and I promise you want to upload a pdf version. Programs read documents differently and sometimes word docs aren’t read the same way and your “pretty” version of your resume doesn’t come through as you intended and spent time formatting. It’s just not worth the risk of messing up a first impression in such a competitive process. Saving it to a pdf ensures that your work formatting and layout sticks. Having the information gathered and in both forms before you start your application will save you a lot of time and headache and ensure it all translates well on the other end for what the computer and hiring manager sees.
3 – Save frequently
As with anything on a computer, you should be in the habit of saving frequently. It’s a terrible experience to focus time and energy in something and then have it all disappear. Online application programs often time out, sometimes your internet connection goes out, etc. Just do yourself a favor and hit “save” as frequently possible.
4 – Use the job description to your favor
You should have a good understanding of the job and what skills they are looking for in a candidate by reading through the job description thoroughly. But you’ll want to take this a step further. The programs these companies use to screen candidates will scan your application for keywords and usually give you a rating based on what they find. It’s a good idea to either print out the job posting and description or have it open in another internet tab. As you fill out your application, be sure to pull phrases and words from the job description and incorporate them into your job experience. Of course you’ll want to be sure it accurately represents your experience but as the computer scans your information, if you have a lot of the same phrases and keywords they are looking for, you will rank higher and have a better chance of being seen by a hiring manager. This doesn’t mean that you go in and lie about your experience but rather make substitutions on similar words you had that better fit the wording they used.
For example if a job posting states they are looking for “effective verbal and written communication skills.” but you originally listed “strong communication skills”, that’s a place you’d want to swap out verbiage to better fit what the computer is looking for. Same with “knowledge of personal computers and standard software applications” sub that for your original “proficient with computers and many office programs”. Again, it’s the exact same information, just worded more in line with the posting to ensure it gets seen by the computer during the initial screening.
5 – Fill in ALL fields
In the past when I’ve attached my resume to an online application, I’ve put “see attached resume” in fields where it asks for my specific employment history. This was a HUGE MISTAKE! Again a computer program is going to be scanning your information to see how well you fit what they are looking for on paper. If you don’t actually provide the information on the application, the program is never going to see you as a good candidate. Take your clean copy of your resume (as explained in #2 above) and take a minute to copy and paste your information into the appropriate fields. It seems redundant but it’s essentially the game you have to play to get seen.
6. Use the STAR Technique
A great way to structure your answers is to use the STAR technique:
Situation – Describe the situation. Where and how did you use your skills?
Task – Tell the recruiter about the tasks completed.
Action – Explain your actions, highlighting the competency you are demonstrating. This is the most important part.
Result – Clarify the positive results and any benefits that arose from your actions.
7 – Be honest
As with anything you do in life, you should really provide an accurate picture of yourself. Be honest. . Present yourself in the best manner possible. We have all done great things and have experience behind us and we should present that well but never make up something that never happened. If it comes to light (more when not if) you lose all credibility and jeopardize a position that you have or could potentially have. It’s just not worth it.
8. Sell Your Achievements
Many candidates find it hard to talk about their successes,Don’t be: draw attention to your skills and attributes, and how they match the requirements of the role.
Remember the recruiter doesn’t know much if anything about you, so it is up to you to present yourself well and grab their attention.
Talk about promotions or accolades you have achieved in prior roles, and mention any positions of responsibility you have held.
This is your chance to tell recruiters exactly how great you are.
9. Customize Your Answers
You might be applying to a number of different companies at one time. If so, remember: they will want to know why you want to work for them specifically.
Each organisation will require a unique set of skills and attributes that you must demonstrate.
Recycling your answers might save you time, but it won’t win you any points with a recruiter or present you in the best light.
10. Verify Everything before submitting
Check, Check and Check Again
Check your answers carefully and make sure the facts on your online application line up with your CV.
Look for spelling and punctuation errors, and keep your answers clear and succinct.
You could always ask a friend or family member to cast a critical eye over your application, before you submit it.
We hope that your found our above 10 Tips for filling out an Online Job Application useful and helpful and that the tips will improve your online Jobs application experience.