How to submit a standout online job application

27 December

For many mid to large scale employers, online applications have become the norm. Online application forms allow employers to assess many different candidates with ease rather than trawling through hundreds of CVs. Many use Applicant Tracking Systems to automatically screen applicants and organise their documents. This helps to take the pressure off HR departments. Unfortunately this puts the ball firmly in the ‘your’ court in terms of the effort it takes to apply for a job.

To ensure that you can submit a standout online job application every time, we’ve put together a list of tips for you to follow, so here goes!

Read the job spec!

It sounds a little obvious but you’d be surprised how many people don’t take the time to really read the job specification. The job spec is where you’ll find all the crucial information that’ll help you to understand exactly what’s required of you. Take special note of the qualifications and experience that are both desired and essential. Consider this as a checklist to work through, tailoring your application to demonstrate that you meet their requirements.

Highlight your relevant experience first & include keywords

First impressions count so it’s essential to start off by bringing your most relevant information to the forefront. This could take place during the skills and achievements section or through your opening cover letter. Wherever possible ask yourself “what is the most relevant information to the role that I’m applying for?”. Once you have the answer, include that information first. In addition, be sure to scour the job spec for keywords to include within your application. Keywords will help you to make it through any automatic screening taking place as well helping human eyes to see what makes you a good fit for the job.

Make sure your application accurately reflects your CV

Sometimes employers like to ask for you to submit a CV with your application. If this is the case you’ll need to ensure that your application accurately reflects your CV. This can often catch people out who’ve spent lots of time perfecting their application to then attach their generic CV including conflicting information. This is a sure fire way to put off potential employers by showing that you lack attention to detail.

Before you submit your application make sure you give it a thorough read-through alongside your CV and cover letter to avoid any inconsistencies.

If it asks for a cover letter, don’t skip it!

A cover letter is your chance to showcase your writing skills by providing the highlights of your most relevant information inside an easy to digest package.

Firstly if at all possible, address it to the recruiter or hiring manager by including their name. The next stage is to write a tailored cover letter that matches the main requirements of the job specification. Ideally, the cover letter should be enough to entice the employer to interview you without any of your supporting documents. Use your cover letter to demonstrate why you would be suitable for the role and how you could add value to the company. If you can include quantifiable information that shows how you’ve had an effect in a previous role, this will help the prospective employer to imagine the effect you could have in their company.

Fill in all the sections

The amount of applicants that leave certain sections completely blank is often astounding. If you don’t take the time to fill out all the information asked of you it’s pretty likely that your application won’t get a second look. Ensure that you fill out all the sections fully.

As a matter of course, it can be a good idea to keep copies of your applications saved on your computer as that way you’ll be able to chop and change relevant information for future applications. This can help to take away a little of the pain when completing multiple applications.

Include detail but keep it brief

A recruiter or hiring manager has lots of applicants to sift through even after any automatic screening has taken place. You’ll need to make sure that your answers are brief and to the point. Unnecessary fluff can be easy to see through for an experienced recruiter and can be quite off-putting. Remember that the person reading your application will be skim reading it so your experience needs to stand out. Include specific examples to strengthen your claim, but make sure you do this in a succinct manner.

Check your social profiles

Many an application has been ruined by a less than appealing social profile. It’s now common practice for employers to check people’s social media profiles as part of the screening process. Set your privacy settings to ensure that any information that they see will show you in a good light. On many social profiles there is a setting allowing you to view your profile as a member of the public; do this to help you tidy up your social brand.

Spell check & proof read

First of all, use spellcheck! It’s there for a reason and it’s a quick way to check that you haven’t included any glaring errors. However, be aware that often word processing packages are set to English (USA) as default. If this is the case make sure you don’t accidentally include any Americanised spellings. Once you’ve run the spell check give it a good once over yourself and if you can, get someone else to check it over. The final step that can be really useful is to read your application out loud. This helps to uncover any things that don’t sound quite right.

Hopefully once you’ve followed these tips you should be well on your way to submitting standout job applications. Good luck!

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