These days online job applications are just as common as cell phones, and they are becoming even more widespread as HR departments move farther and farther away from paper-based processing. Any day now, I'm expecting to see a company accepting applications by text message.
When it comes to online applications, here are six things to consider:
- Job codes – If you are applying for a specific position, make sure that you enter the correct job code as this helps the applicant tracking system put you in the correct bucket. If you use the wrong ones, your resume may kick the bucket or never be found.
- Salary information – Avoid entering salary information if you are not required to do so. As much as I, the recruiter, want you to enter the information, I, Absolutely Abby, recommend against it. If I, the recruiter, know your salary range before you know the job's salary range I, the recruiter, have the upper hand in the negotiation.
- Cover letter – If the application asks for one, you should paste one in there. We are secretly evaluating your creativity and your writing skills from your cover letter. Make sure that your grammar is in tip top shape. Every word you use from now until you are hired is being evaluated.
- Spelling – If there are free form fields in the application where you have to enter in school names, company names or references, be sure that you spell them correctly. This is not just because spelling errors will hurt you, but because a misspelled word means a missed keyword matching opportunity.
- Follow directions – If the application instructs you to fill a field out, make sure that you do it. If you can't follow simple instructions like this, how will you possibly follow them on the job? Or, will you disrespect authority once hired? This will be in the mind of the recruiter reviewing your application… trust me.
- Social Security Number - If this is a required field, you don't have a choice but to provide it. If you are extremely reluctant to provide it, you can try to enter 000-00-0000 and see if the system barks back at you. But, entering an invalid social security number is not exactly following directions, so I would avoid it. If you decide to enter your social security number, just make sure that the website is a) an actual company's application b) an https site rather than http and c) a company that you really want to work for enough to give them your social security number.
Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
Applying online is a necessity these days if you are in the job search world, but it is not the only choice despite what it seems. If you apply for a job via an online application, there is no reason why you should not mail your resume in at the same time. You will not be penalized for sending it in using two methods and you may actually gain points for creativity. You should also find a way to network your resume into the hands of the Hiring Manager in conjunction with applying online. Think outside the box and success will be just around the corner.