Online job applications aren't a new concept. In fact, 73% of college seniors in the U.S. say they use online job boards, such as Monster or Indeed, to search for jobs, while 79% of job seekers say they have used the internet in their most recent job search.
While online job applications quickly become the new normal, not every job seeker is experienced with the online job application process. If you've ever asked yourself, "How do I apply for a job online?" and aren't sure where to start, you've come to the right place. We're here to help you learn how to get past online job applications and have plenty of tips for applying to jobs online.
But before we dive in, is your resume up to par? We have all the tools you need to build your resume and write a resume in minutes. Having a strong resume will be crucial to your online job application.
How to fill out online job applications
Below you'll find our best online job application tips. You'll need a computer, safe internet access and a professional email address. Follow these steps and tips for filling out online job applications:
1. Understand the application process and study the job description.
The online job application process can be daunting or confusing since application processes and requirements vary. Job boards typically have one process for every job, but sometimes they send you to the company's website to apply directly, and those applications come in all shapes and sizes. Review the job description, and match your skills and work experience to the requirements. This is especially important if you are trying to make it to the next step in your career. Make a list of your transferable skills to work into your resume if you are changing careers or industries.
2. Be prepared.
Requirements will vary per job, so it's best to be prepared for anything. At a minimum, you will need a resume and a cover letter, and you might be asked for a list of references, licenses, a portfolio link and other examples of work. One of our top tips for applying to jobs online — and offline — is to keep a list of your achievements, such as sales awards and credentials, on hand if you are leveling up in your career.
3. Update your resume.
Tailor your resume to the job you are applying to — it will show employers exactly why you are the best fit for the job. You can customize your resume by matching your skills to the position's requirements or by rewording your experience section to highlight the most relevant achievements for each job and include keywords. It's worth the extra time to choose the right resume format because it can help ensure you get picked up by the company's applicant tracking systems (ATS).
4. Update your profile on LinkedIn and other networking sites.
The online job application process has changed in the last few years with the popularity of professional networking sites like LinkedIn. Some recruiters and hiring managers like looking at your profile to learn more about you, so make sure it's up to date and that you don't have any images or posts that might jeopardize your online job application.
5. Download your resume in multiple file formats.
Most companies will ask for either a Microsoft Word (.doc) or Portable Document Format (PDF) file, but some prefer plain text (.txt), since it is easy for most programs to interpret. During your online job application process, you will likely be asked to fill out manual forms in addition to uploading your resume. While this may seem pointless, it helps make it easy for applicant tracking systems (ATS) to find your resume and scan your information for relevance. We recommend copying and pasting your resume into the form fields section by section to save time. A plain text format works best for this, as it avoids errors and makes it easier for ATS programs to read your resume. So, here's one of the hottest online job application tips: have a .txt file of your resume ready.
6. Review each form field and save it as you go along.
Online applications often autofill the form fields for applicants. While this may seem helpful in theory, it can sometimes introduce mistakes, so check each field as you move through the online job application process. When using a job board such as Indeed or Monster, it's best to use our Chrome Extension, a free app that avoids mistakes by checking how well your resume matches the job description and accurately filling in the forms on those sites.
7. Have a cover letter ready to attach to the online job application.
Even if not required, recruiters and hiring managers prefer online applications that include cover letters. So it's worth the time it takes to write one. A cover letter will help you stand out by personalizing your application while allowing you the space to explain to potential employers exactly why the job makes sense for your career goals. We have hundreds of cover letter examples at your disposal and professional cover letter templates that can complement your resume.
8. Don't lie, exaggerate or embellish your online job application process.
There are many ways for employers to find out if you lie, so chances are you will get caught. Companies often screen applicants using the information provided on job applications and will not hesitate to remove dishonest candidates from the applicant pool. If you lie and are caught after getting hired, you will lose your job. Lying can also prevent you from getting jobs in the future.
9. Proofread the final product.
You've been careful: reviewed every field on each form, saved your work as you went along, made sure your professional summary or objective statement was correct, and even took a break to refocus. You've made it to the end of the online job application process, and you're ready to hit "Send." Stop right there. Details count, and mistakes can cost you the job. You might have missed a typo, forgotten the contact information for one of your references, or maybe your cover letter never quite attached. It's better to double-check than to cost yourself the job — you want to stand out for the right reasons.
10. Be patient and keep applying.
Sometimes, finding a new job can take some time. Take a deep breath, create a good strategy for your online job search and keep applying. It also helps to network offline and reach out to people, as they can help you find unadvertised job opportunities. Whatever you do, stay confident and focused.