What is the purpose of an online application anyway?
1. It is a legal document to cover HR.
2. It is tool used to weed out applicants.
Sounds horrible, doesn't it. My disclaimer is, I am not an HR professional. I am a guide to help job seekers navigate the process of getting hired. I might also add, that those two statements are very big picture. I am sure there are companies who truly believe in their online application system and try and use them for the greater good of finding the right candidate. But the fact remains, as they review the submissions, they are screening out candidates. That's their job.
The other day, a job seeker was asking a question she had about an online application. Her question was: "What do you think they meant by ...?" She wasn't sure what answer to give them. If she provided the right answer, her application would move forward in the process. If she gave the wrong information, she'd end up in the wastebasket. There was a lot riding on her response on the application. You know how she resolved it? She guessed at what she THOUGHT they meant.
The difficult and best way to handle the question would have been... to call the employer and ask what they meant. Seems logical, but why didn't she do this? It would take time, she probably would get voicemail. She might be perceived as dumb?
The next time you aren't sure what someone is looking for, ask for clarification. (This is true in an interview as well!)
Here are some other reminders for filling out an online application:
- Never lie. It is a legal document.
- Use correct capitalization (upper and lower case) when filling in the blanks.
- Insert all the right key words from the job posting (remember rule #1)
- Follow all instructions to the letter.
- Add as much detail as will fit in the job responsibilities. Use Action and Result bullets, like you did on your resume. Make sure they fit the level of the job you are applying for.
- Avoid using FIRED as your reason for leaving- a layoff is not "fired". Fired means you did something really bad.
- Do thorough research about the job and company before entering salary requirements. The number may not be "how much you need to pay your bills". Use a range if possible
- Break long careers with one company into individual jobs at that company.
- Keep personal information to a minimum. Don't confess medical problems or negative information about yourself or the employer on your application.
- Use exact dates of employment. If you don't know, find out now. This question comes up a lot.
- Don't expect this application to get you an interview. Find insiders to recommend you.
I am being a bit glib with some items on this list. If you have questions about what I mean, please ask for clarification.
If you have tips you would like to add/share, please, do so!