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Tips For Filling Out An Online Application

Published: Friday 20th February 2015

These days, practically everything is online – including job applications. To make things simpler for companies, many now ask that potential candidates fill out a ‘one-size-fits-all’ online application that makes it infinitely easier to sift through the hundreds of applications they generally receive. However, what becomes harder is making yourself stand out as a potential employee when dealing with an online application.

A female employee typing on her keyboard

Getting to grips with an online application isn’t difficult, but you may be wondering how exactly you can best promote yourself and skills.

Present Yourself Neatly In Your Online Application

It may seem like a no-brainer, but companies do not want to read through reams of text from hundreds of potential candidates. The point of using an online application system is to receive information quickly and effortlessly in a format that is easy to scan. If you simply copy and paste your CV into the respective boxes on the form, chances are that you’ll end up with a text-heavy application. This is not to say that you should leave out important information, but consider how you format it. Paragraphs should not be longer than six lines if you can help it. Bullet points are your friend – use them often to list your qualities and achievements that match the person specification. Finally, ensure that you follow the online application instructions to the letter.

You Don’t Have To Fill Out Everything

Although you should follow the instructions on screen, sometimes some questions will not be relevant to you. Remember that you are working within a ‘one-size-fits-all’ system that you are trying to tailor to your needs. Due to this, you may not need to fill out every section. You typically have to fill in your contact information, educational background and employment history, so it is a good idea to have these ready on a Word document. That way you can simply copy and paste as appropriate saving you a lot of time.

online application form, computer desk

However, you may also have to give the name of your current employer and what you expect your salary to be. These questions can put you in an awkward position, especially if you are between jobs. If this is the case, it is perfectly acceptable to type ‘to be discussed’ into the box, and leave it at that. There is no need to add copious amounts of detail, as employers want easily digestible information.

If the application form requires a specific number for your salary, make it something low, such as £10.00 – something that clearly isn’t your real expectation. It is unfair to have to list your expected salary when you haven’t discussed the role yet. If you come across a question that isn’t relevant to you at all, it is perfectly acceptable to type ‘N/A’ (not applicable) into the box.

Tailor Your Answers To Showcase Your Skill Set

An online application is your opportunity to sell yourself to this company. Ensure that your skills match the person specification on the advertisement, and emphasise this in your answers on the application form. You don’t need to write long answers to every question, (remember, the employer wants to scan) but ensure that your answers are specific. Fill your answers with the key skills that you know the employer is looking for. Many companies use tracking systems to filter out online applications that don’t include certain keywords, so do yourself a favour and make it clear that you do have the skills for the job.

man writing taking down notes and working on laptop

Check Your Online Application

Making mistakes at this stage of the application process is not only embarrassing, but it could easily cause any prospective employer to write you off immediately. Double-check your application for any typos or grammatical errors and make sure you answer all the questions. If you worry about spelling errors, it can help to copy and paste your application into Word and run a ‘spelling and grammar check’ to help you spot any mistakes. However, be aware that Word will not always catch grammatical typos such as the difference between ‘their’, ‘they’re’ and ‘there’ so read carefully!

Many websites offer users the opportunity to save their online application and continue it later. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Reviewing your application in the morning with fresh eyes can alert you to errors you may have easily missed the night before. Finally, before you send your online application, save a version of it to your computer or print it out. If you get a job interview, you will need to refer back to what you have written. If you’re on the lookout for your next career challenge then start your job search on Zoek today!

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