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12 tips to make applying for jobs online easier

applying for jobs, effective ways to apply for jobs, applying online, online job applications,
Carefully complete online job
Many companies insist that you complete an online job application form to apply for their open positions. Trouble is, many such online application forms are terribly challenging to complete.

To apply as easily and effectively as possible, try these tips:

1. Work quickly. Some systems can “time out” if they are not completed quickly enough. But even though you have to work fast, expect to spend an hour per application, or even more for the most tedious forms. (The worst offenders: educational, health care and government/defense industry forms).  

2. When given the option to upload a resume or complete a form, opt to upload your resume by clicking the “Browse” button to find/upload your resume from your computer. This can save you time and ensure your resume looks like you intended it.

3. Create a chronological resume in plain text (ASCII) format so you can easily copy/paste it into online templates without reformatting problems. Here’s how

4. Keep answers short so you don’t have to edit them to fit particularly short boxes. Save common responses to a Word document so that you can quickly paste the same answers into future forms.

5. Prepare a past job history document to quickly fill in forms when prompted. Include:

  • Your past companies with each address and main phone number
  • Your beginning and ending dates (if you don’t know the actual date, put the first of the month for the start date and the end of the month for your end date)
  • Your beginning and ending titles at each place
  • Your supervisor’s name, title and contact information (or HR’s contact information)
  • Your beginning and ending salary for each job
  • Job duties/accomplishments for each position
  • Your reason(s) for leaving each company stated as briefly and positively as possible

Access an application form preparation sheet.

6. Have a list of at least four references ready to paste into a template with the following information:
  • Each reference’s name and title
  • Their company name, address, preferred phone number, and email address
  • Your relationship to each reference (and years known)
Learn more and access a free reference creation sheet.

7. Create a list of proficiencies and certifications. (You may also need the year you attained certain certifications).

8. List your educational history including:
  • School names and addresses
  • Grade point average
  • Months/years of attendance
  • Degree(s)/certifications attained / areas of study
  • Additional courses completed since graduation
  • NOTE: You may also need your student number and transcript information.

9. Create a short, powerful standard cover letter to paste into online forms when prompted. It should include:
  • The position title and company name. “I am very interested in your ABC position at XYZ Corp.”
  • Why you are uniquely qualified for the opening, “I have measurable results in THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER THING which makes me particularly suitable for the position.”
  • A call to action. “Please contact me at your earliest convenience at PHONE NUMBER or email me at EMAIL ADDRESS to discuss the opportunity.”
  • Closing: “Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.” -- NAME

10. Have impressive attachments ready in case you are given the opportunity to include them. These could include:
  • A list of your LinkedIn recommendations. Here’s how
  • A list of references or reference letters, or a list of testimonials
  • Samples
  • Certifications
  • Your college transcript

11. Be ready to complete online assessment questions. Typically these questions will seek to determine if you have the required experience and skill level for the open position, the right personality to fit into their environment, and/or the correct citizenship documents to be considered. Copy/paste your best answers to such questions into a document for fast retrieval later.

How to pass job assessment tests
How to answer tricky assessment questions

12. Review/improve your submission if provided a summary page. Potential employers can and do reject candidates because of typos and other errors in their application form. 

Other tips
  • Avoid using your computer’s back button to return to a previous page. This may cancel out your entire submission. Instead, look for and use the form’s back button.
  • Use the “Save as Draft” button if an online form takes longer to complete than you have time available.
  • Avoid over-clicking buttons on slow-moving systems. This can freeze/cancel your application.
  • Print and/or save the job description. Review it before interviews.
  • Keep a log of positions for which you’ve applied. Include the company name, job title, date applied, source (such as Monster.com), any special username/password required to access their system, and special notes such as, “Yikes! Allow 3 hours for applications to XYZ Corp.”
  • When in doubt, answer as best you can. Some systems simply won’t allow you to answer a question correctly. For example, a system may not allow you to respond “all of the above” so just give the best answer you can and explain at the interview if need be.

Most importantly … 
After applying online, outmaneuver the online application system by influencing the hiring decision. Here's how.

Have an online job application form horror story or tip to help others apply online? Do share! -- Kathy


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