Many employers require that job seekers complete an online application as part of the hiring process. The application is typically a generic form that accompanies a candidate’s cover letter and resume, but it is often overlooked.
Job seekers erroneously assume that their cover letter and resume will help them to stand out to potential employers; however, due to an overwhelming number of online applicants, employers are looking for ways to narrow down the pool. If you forget to include pertinent information, chances are that your application will be placed into the “rejected” pile. As a result, a job seeker’s failure to properly complete an online application form may mean that a potential employer will never see his cover letter or resume.
Here’s how job seekers may improve the quality of their online applications to ensure that their cover letter and resume are reviewed by potential employers:
Follow directions. The most important thing that a job seeker can do when completing an online application is to read both the job description and submission requirements thoroughly. Not only will this help you to understand whether you are a fit for the job, but it will ensure that you don’t leave out any key information in the application process. No employer wants to hire someone who, in the initial application process, demonstrates poor attention to detail by leaving out a key portion of their application.
Be pro-active. Potential employers are not interested in hiring someone who will not put in the amount of effort that they require. Be sure that, in all aspects of your job application, you are going above and beyond. For example, do not merely attach your resume to a job application form and say “see attached.” The employer requires a separate form for a reason, and your refusal to comply with this system makes you seem difficult before you are even considered for hire.
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Get to the point. When talking about your skills and accomplishments on an online application, make sure that you get to the point quickly and dynamically. Many job seekers spend so much time perfecting their cover letter and resume that they don’t consider creative, dynamic ways to stand out in the job application. Match the keywords from the job description to your own skills and experiences, and then use results-oriented language that demonstrates your skills. A simple formula to remember and utilize is:
Employer wants this: I can do this: This is where I have done it: This was the result.
Never copy and paste. Although it is important to show employers that you are who they are looking for, be wary of simply copying and pasting their posted job description into your job application. Your cover letter and resume are likely a personal reflection of your unique attributes, and provide concrete examples of what you have achieved. Your online application should be equally engaging. Never simply list generic statements about your skills and experience or solely reiterate your current job description.
Before you hit send on your online application, run a spell and grammar check on what you have written, and make sure that you have assembled all of a potential employer’s requirements. Does the subject line match the employer’s requested subject line? Did you completely fill out the application? Does your cover letter share specific, actionable information about you?
Taking the time to learn more about the position for which you are applying, and to apply correctly, will take you a long way in the hiring process.