Online Application Forms – Hints, Tips and Tricks

[This post was brought to you on behalf of]

Many large companies have recruitment sites online nowadays – rather than relying on CVs and job listings, they’re creating a hub through which keen applicants can learn more about their business, see what’s available in every region and at every level, and store their details so they can easily apply for more than one role.

For instance the careers site for Direct Line Group acts both as a directory of all the jobs currently waiting to be filled at the company and as an invaluable resource for anyone who’s looking for insurance jobs in the UK . There’s an in-depth description of each role, videos of employees’ experiences and comprehensive info about what benefits are on offer.

Sometimes, having so much information at your fingertips when you’re filling out an application form can be overwhelming – especially if it’s online. It’s hard to resist the temptation to dash around using search engines and the recruitment site to find inspiration for your answers, then tick all the boxes and click ‘Submit’ without the due care you’d normally take over a job application.

So, if you’re applying online, here are five quick rules to bear in mind:

1. If you can, have a dry run

See if you can print out or copy the form into a document so you can do a few drafts before submission. Writing online can often be informal and social, and it’s important that you snap yourself out of ‘casual’ mode and into ‘professional’ mode before you start – putting something to paper will make you really think about each question before you answer it.

2. Before you start, have everything ready

Most applications will log you out after a set period if there’s no activity – so have your National Insurance number, your personal details and the details of your references to hand so you don’t have to hunt for them half way through the process.

3. At most, you should have three browser tabs or windows open on your screen

It’s a good idea keep the job description page open so you can refer back to it – after all, the qualities and qualifications that are listed on this page are what your application is going to be matched against, so you want to make sure you’ve ticked as many boxes as you can. It might also be a good idea to have the page in which the company describes its ideals and objectives open, so you can demonstrate that you’re in-line with their mentality at some point in the application process.

Any more than three tabs and you’ll find yourself getting distracted or trying to cram too much information and references into your application – which will undermine our third hint:

4. Keep answers short

On a CV or cover letter, recruiters might be more indulgent when it comes to length – on an application form brevity is a qualification in itself. Short, to-the-point answers are required so try keeping it down to less than three lines to every paragraph and up to two paragraphs for each answer.

5. Don’t leave anything blank

Just like when you were doing exams back in the day, writing something is always better than writing nothing. Leaving a blank space where an answer should be will make the recruiter think you’ve carelessly missed something out – and not bothering to fill in a section which is only ‘optional’ will make them think you’re not really interested in the role. Find something to say, whether it’s how you became interested in their company, or an example of a transferable skill you have.

Related posts:

  1. 4 Tips to Clean Up Your Online Presence
  2. What Everybody Ought to Know About Online Applications
  3. Making the Most of the College Application Process

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Dan Schawbel

    Dan Schawbel, the founder of the Student Branding Blog, is a world renowned personal branding expert, the international bestselling author of Me 2.0, as well as the publisher of the Personal Branding Blog.

  • Connect With Dan

  • Chelsea Rice

    Chelsea Rice is the editor-in-chief of the Student Branding Blog. She began her work for just before graduating from Boston University, where she studied journalism and minored in international relations.

  • Connect With Chelsea

  • Recognition

    • Recommended resource - The Washington Post
    • "A terrific way for students to learn about branding" - Lindsey Pollak
    • "Worth checking out" - Psychology Today
    • HR World's top 100 management blogs