From a recruiter’s point of view, online application forms are a quick and easy way to eliminate candidates who may be unsuitable for the advertised role; however, for candidates they can seem like a daunting slog of effort without much opportunity to sell themselves or their talents. All is not lost though, as there are ways in which you can make your application the best it can possibly be if you avoid some of the common pitfalls that can scupper many job seekers.
One of the simplest things to get right when it comes to online application forms is also one of the most important: contact details! Make sure that any details you give the recruiter are not only up to date but appropriate (i.e. avoid email addresses like SexiP1nkbunny@hotmail.com and make sure that your answerphone message isn’t the one you drunkenly made last Friday at 3am, thinking it was hilarious).
Similarly, it is all too easy to skim over the contact details and accidentally put your surname as your first name, misspell your email address or get your phone number wrong. These may seem like errors you would never make but when you’re anxious to get to the ‘important’ part of the form tiny details like this can often be missed.
Keep it concise
Secondly, try to avoid a pitfall that is all too easy to fall into: including too much information on the form. While it is great to be thorough in your answers, online application forms usually have relatively little space so you don’t want to use up your limited word count with waffle. One of the best tricks you can use is to write up your answer to each question in a Word document or similar, remembering to stick to the question and then edit it down to the appropriate word count. (This will also help to eliminate any spelling errors.) Just remember to copy that text into a TextEdit or Notepad program before you copy it back onto the online application form, or you might experience some formatting issues.
Do your research
The next point to bear in mind is something that you should be doing regardless of how you apply for the role and that is doing some thorough research into the company. Just a mention of the company’s culture, products or latest news here and there in your application will put you a few crucial steps ahead of the competition.
Many online application forms will also require you to submit a CV, so make sure that you have this up to date. Ensure that you have made every effort to match it to the job description and run it through a spell check. Remember to include specific achievements as much as possible, rather than ambiguous statements. Remember that whilst a good CV won’t rescue a bad application form, a bad CV will certainly count against you.
Keep at it!
Whilst online application forms are a lot easier to fill in than they used to be, some can still be very lengthy and convoluted. Don’t let this put you off though! If you want the job, you aren’t doing yourself any favours by dropping out of the application process; bear in mind that the more thorough the application form, the more chance you have to prove that you’re the right candidate for the job.
Also, remember that if you are willing to take the trouble to complete an online application you are already at an advantage. Studies have shown that about 30% of all applicants, strong and otherwise, will not complete them, which is why some employers are now scaling back on using this method. You have a head start by just putting your name down, so make the most of it!