3 Tips for Handling Online Job Applications

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If you’ve ever applied for a job at a large company, you’ve likely encountered the dreaded online application form. Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re confronted with one:

Do a Cover Letter (Make It Original)

Many online application forms give you the option of inputting a cover letter. It’s tempting to skip this step, especially if it comes at the tail end of an especially long application, but doing so would be a mistake. Should your application end up reviewed by a flesh-and-blood human being, they’ll almost certainly pay more attention to a submission that includes a few paragraphs about your background, experience, and why you want the job.

To that end, make sure your cover letter is tailored to the position you want. Your average HR staffer sees dozens (if not hundreds) of applications every week, and you want to stand out. Don’t rely on a generic template, but take the time to craft a short-but-sweet biography that shows why you’d be especially suited for the job on offer.

Résumés and Applications Should Match

Online applications ask you to input the bulk of your employment history. When doing so, make sure that everything in the application matches up with your résumé, cover letter, and any other supplementary materials you submit; if your application passes through the initial series of reviews, chances are good that HR staffers will look for any discrepancy in the materials you’ve provided. Review to ensure your employment dates, job titles, skill-sets, and tasks stay constant from document to document.

Fill Out Everything

Completing an online job application might seem like a pain, but there’s usually a reason behind the company’s request: They want certain kinds of information that aren’t present in a standard résumé-and-cover letter combination, and they want it in a format that aligns with their own (searchable) internal review process and recordkeeping. If you don’t fill everything out—or submit only cursory answers at points—it will almost certainly harm your chances of landing the interview. You don’t want to seem uncooperative (or lazy) from the outset.

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3 Responses to “3 Tips for Handling Online Job Applications”

December 16, 2015 at 10:55 am, Mario Renzulli said:

As a side note: Along with the application and resume matching up, it’s important to mention that your social appearance should also match up with your resume and online application. It’s a red flag to see you left out a short project on your resume. Maybe not a deal killer but hiring managers will be wondering if there is anything else you are leaving out.

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December 17, 2015 at 1:03 pm, Barry Kingston said:

Can you comment here about the drop-down list for selecting a State in online job applications? I think the reason it may be a drop-down instead of a fill-in box is that it is somehow used as a searchable field, so that certain States can be searched while omitting others. If you’re from a State that is not being included, you’re out of luck. Do you have any thoughts on this?

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January 21, 2016 at 8:15 am, Thomas Burke said:

Some online applications will give you the choice of added your resume or using your LinkedIn profile. Which should choose?

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