In the era of the Internet and ever-evolving technologies, it is now seen as the norm for employer organisations to invite online applications to their job vacancies. The process of applying online has therefore become a job search skill in itself, given that it differs from the process of making a traditional job application. Here are some tips for perfecting the skill that every job seeker in the 21st century needs.
Have a plan. Before going online and searching for jobs or filling in application forms, make sure that you have a plan as to how you're going to spend your time online. It's easy once in front of a computer to meander and to lose focus, spending hours and hours looking at jobs you're not even interested in. In order to prevent this, make sure you outline your targets and actions before going on to the Internet. What sites do you want to visit and how long are you going to spend on each of them?
Get clear on what you're looking for. The clearer you are on what you want, the more specific you can be when searching online for vacancies to apply to. You'll be smarter when it comes to looking at an employer's website or a job board to see which advertised positions are right for you.
Be realistic. As well as taking into account what you really want, be realistic about the type of role that would work for you. Establish some clear criteria and constraints, such as the number of hours you want to work, how many miles you want to commute and how important bonuses, pensions and benefits are to you. There is no point applying for a role that will ultimately clash with all the things you deem important.
Do your research. The more that you understand about the vacancy and the hiring organisation the better. Armed with this information you are in a good position to fill in the online application appropriately. And what better place to do your research than on the World Wide Web itself? Use Yahoo! UK to search for information and news on the type of role you want and the company you have your eye on.
Keep a list of jobs that you are applying for. If possible, keep also a copy of the application form you filled in. This way, if any of the applications are successful, you can refer back to what you wrote and be well prepared for your interview.
Prepare some useful phrases. In addition, also prepare bullet points and paragraphs on what you want to say in your online applications. This is useful because you can copy and paste them into an application form at a later date.
Prepare a CV that lends itself to web reading. Instead of asking you to fill in an online application, some employers and recruiters might ask you to email them your CV instead. It's therefore important to have a CV that someone can read on their computer without feeling it's much longer and drier than the kind of content they usually read online. The CV should be two pages or less, with lots of white space, bullet points and short, snappy paragraphs.
Less is more when it comes to the number of applications you fill in. Usually we think that the more jobs we apply for the better chance we have of having success, yet it is sometimes actually the other way around. Focusing on doing a few applications really well and making sure that you are genuinely a good fit for them is likely to put you in a much stronger position than applying for anything and everything half-heartedly.
Agree with one or two people you know that they will be your referee. Make sure that you use referees who will be useful to you -- maybe they know the sector and/or the function that you are applying to. The more relevant they are, the more credence can be given to them by the employing organisation. Never use a referee's name and contact details without first checking with them. It's all very well saying you'll contact your chosen referee after you've sent the application, but submitting an online application means its recipient can access your referees' details instantly and may contact them before you get a chance to speak to them yourself.
Enlist the services a beta reader. In the Age of the Internet, 'beta readers' are all the rage, and for good reason. Emailing your CV or personal statement to someone you trust so they can cast an objective eye over it, proofread it and, if necessary, make suggestions for improving it is something you should seriously consider doing before submitting your application to the employer or recruiter.
About the author
Nisa Chitakasem is Founder of Position Ignition, the UK's leading Career Consulting Company and co-author of their eBook How to Get the Job You Want. Nisa co-founded Position Ignition.com to provide career consulting to people looking for guidance and support through their career change, new career direction, job search and career development.