Application forms are irritating. They ask difficult questions, some of which you may consider impertinent, others just silly. Why do employers use them?
While most employers still rely on CVs, large organisations that receive huge numbers of job applications generally prefer to use their own application form. By using these forms they get answers to the questions they want answered not just the information you decide to give. They can also more easily compare one application with another, which is much more difficult with CVs.
So how do you best apply for online jobs? Here are 5 of the best tips:
1. Thoroughly read job descriptions. Most recruiters will tell you a big pet peeve is hearing from job seekers who apply even if they aren’t qualified for the job. Take the time to understand exactly what the company expects from applicants for jobs that interest you; do not ignore the detailed description of what the job entails. “ATS technologies can filter candidates by those whose responses dovetail best with specific job descriptions. For the best response rates, make sure your content and experience match up accordingly, ” Day says.
2. Create an original cover letter. If the company asks for a cover letter, be sure to include one. Make sure to write one specific to your accomplishments and skills and one that addresses the job description properly. Go a step further and mention how you will use that knowledge and those skills on the job. Avoid sending out a generic, run-of-the-mill cover letter. “Despite the cover letter being digital, it’s often the first thing recruiters read when viewing candidate profiles—even ahead of the resume, ” Day explains. “Use the cover letter as an opportunity to showcase your personality, qualifications, and desire for the job.”
3. Identify key words and tailor your resume. Take your time and look over your resume. Find the key words in the job description and make sure you indicate how your accomplishments address those requirements. Be sure to customize your resume and/or cover letter slightly to each specific job.
4. Make sure your responses are on target and error free. “With paper applications, poorly written submissions can be tossed in the ‘circular file, ’ never to be seen again, ” Day says. “But with digital applications, error-laden content lives on at that company, potentially hurting your chances for a relationship with the employer in the future as well.” This is a scary thought, but one that should motivate you to triple-check your content for spelling, content, and grammar. Additionally, Day suggests you make sure all of your information is completely spelled out—in other words, avoid abbreviations. In many cases, abbreviations that may be understood readily by the hiring managers are not familiar to the first-line recruiters.
5. Clean up your public social media profile. A technology-savvy hiring company is more likely to take an active interest in your social media profile postings. Make sure you don’t have public images or content that would distract, or worse yet, deter hiring managers or recruiters from wanting to hire you. Don’t provide red flags for recruiters and hiring managers. “If used properly, social media can help you connect with potential employers—just make sure your online data is working for you, not against you, ” Day concludes.