A Practical Guide to Online Job Applications

What is a job application and what do employers expect?

A job application is sent to a prospective employer in response to a job advertisement. It is how we register interest and present our skills and suitability with the aim of being asked to attend an interview. Before the online era, it was a matter of printing out a CV and cover letter, choosing a nice folder and packaging it all up in an envelope before going off in search of a post box.

Now with just a couple of clicks, we’ve applied for another job and herein lies the problem. With this ease of application, recruiters and employers are swamped with unsuitable applications and consequently the culling process becomes ruthless, leaving some suitable candidates with poor applications in the deleted and even unread pile.

An employer’s expectations are simple. They expect an applicant to answer a job advertisement in the manner requested because they possess the attributes required.
A job application, online or otherwise is also a first impression, and first impressions matter!

Here are 10 ways to make sure your online job application is taken seriously:

Customise an individual response that mirrors the requirements

Read the job description thoroughly, highlight all the skills and attributes required and reflect back your corresponding qualities within the context of the role you are applying for.
Honesty is important here as you will ultimately need to back up your application with actual details. List at least one example for each corresponding requirement on your own copies of your CV and cover letter in preparation for an interview.

Provide the information requested. Fill out all sections.

Skipping sections or not fully answering questions gives a disorganized impression to an employer. If you are unable to answer a specific question, include a brief reason why rather than leaving a blank.

Get it in on time

Punctuality and working to deadlines are important qualities in most jobs. Submit your application well before the final day.


Proofread twice and then ask someone else to do this for you also. Read through for spell check errors and ensure your grammar and punctuation are perfect.

Make your research into the industry and company show

Avoid a generic approach by referencing not just the industry, but the company itself and where it fits within the wider sector. This demonstrates your knowledge of the organisation and a thorough approach to preparation and research.

Research the company values are and use these in your application

The ‘core values’ of an organisation can usually be found on their website. They may include terms such as integrity, efficiency, accountability, diversity, transparency, honesty, safety and commitment to name just a few.

These values are intended to drive the culture of the organisation and guide the actions and responses of those within it. Pick up on the wording and align your application accordingly.

Be concise

It’s likely the person screening applications have a large pile to read through. A clear and customised application allows those hiring to quickly tick the boxes they are looking for. Submitting unnecessary detail or a rambling cover letter may result in the reader losing interest.

Remember to attach your CV and any other information requested

A second email or application containing the vital piece of information you forgot to attach does not send a good message. Check and then recheck you have attached all the required documentation before sending.

Clean up your social media presence

Many employers will check out your social media presence to gain additional clues about you as a person. Either remove all inappropriate language, photos, conversations and comments or adjust your privacy settings accordingly. If you use a site like LinkedIn for business purposes make sure it aligns with the information you have submitted in your application.

Add a personal touch with a follow-up phone call

Show your genuine interest in the role and excellent communication skills by phoning the employer or recruiter to confirm your application has been received, let them know how excited you are to be applying, and perhaps ask when you should expect to hear from them. Keep it brief, polite and professional and always thank them for their time.

You are likely to be one of the few applicants to come out from behind their computer and as such will immediately stand out.

Use these tips to avoid drowning in the sea of online job applications and get the job you want faster.

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