How to Successfully Complete an Online Job Application
The days of holding one position for life and retiring with a gold watch are long gone. Most people change jobs multiple times over their working life, and many even change careers entirely, some more than once.
You may have noticed that most employers require an online application. Whether you are applying to be a zookeeper who cares for exotic animals, a broker who helps people invest in commercial real estate, or a middle school librarian, this article will help you complete an effective online job application.
Save, Save, Save!
Chances are, you will have to create an account on your potential employer’s website to complete a job application. This is a good thing because it allows you to save your application as you complete it. Be sure to save frequently so that you do not lose your work in case of a lapse in internet service or another mishap.
Speaking of your accounts with potential employers, you might consider creating a separate email address for the purposes of applying for jobs online. “YourNewHire@host.com” or something similar would work. Also, use passwords on your application accounts that you can easily remember, but not the same one for all accounts and not one that you use for anything else online, for security purposes.
You may wonder why you must complete so many redundant questions in an online application when the resume you uploaded has all that information. It might be irritating to list all the schools you attended, degrees earned, honors awarded, and previous positions held, but there is a reason that you must.
Your potential employer receives the information you submit in a particular format. They also receive your competitors’ information in the same format. Let’s say you decide to leave some fields blank, thinking that your resume should suffice. When your potential employer accesses your information and your competitors’ information in the same format, there will be blank areas on yours. It will look as if you have nothing to report in the sections you did not complete, even though your resume contains that information. Your employer will likely reject your application as a result.
To make completing an online application less arduous, you might consider cutting and pasting information directly from your resume word doc into the fields in the online application. This will ensure that the information you submit in the online application is correct and consistent with your resume.
Do Not Use All Caps
Do you feel yelled at? That’s what your potential employer will feel too.
Also, be sure to proofread your work. You can also check your work for proper grammar and punctuation by submitting your work to an online checker such as Grammarly.
Create a Document with Your Responses for Future Applications
Here’s where you can game the system, so to say. Many employers ask the same boilerplate questions, such as “If you disagreed with a colleague on X, how would you handle it?” “What would you do if a parent calls you and is angry with you for telling their child Y?” “In what environment do you do your best work, and if you are not in that environment, how do you cope?”
For each question of this type that you must complete, create it in a Word doc first, and be sure to save it after you’ve proofread it and checked grammar and punctuation. This way, you expend the time and effort to create good quality responses only once and reuse your answers on the next application you complete.
Submit High-Quality References
Employers almost always ask for professional references. You want to source the best references you have, people who can attest to your work ethic, the quality of your work, and aspects of your character that make you a valuable employee.
If you are a high school graduate looking for work in retail or service, it would be appropriate to use high school teachers or your school counselor or coach as references. Not so if you have previous experience performing the job for which you are applying. In that case, a former employer, manager, or supervisor would be better choices.
If you are a recent college graduate, again, professors are suitable references. However, if you have some years in the job market, choose colleagues and other professional contacts instead. You want people who can speak to who you are today and the quality of work you have performed, as well as your potential.
Contact the individuals you wish to use as references before listing them on any online application. No one wants a surprise phone call from your potential employer, and it may not serve you well if your reference is not prepared to talk you up.
Last, Be Honest
Everyone wants to put their best foot forward, and it is common for applicants to choose words meant to boost the prestige of former positions, such as “custodial engineer” or “facilities manager” instead of “janitor.” Employers expect this.
What employers also expect is to be told the truth. Claiming degrees or awards you did not earn will likely backfire because even if you get an interview and the interview goes well, your background will be thoroughly checked, and you will be found out. Be truthful in completing your online application.
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Veronica Baxter is a writer, blogger, and legal assistant operating out of the greater Philadelphia area.