How can I prepare an effective online job application?

When you are applying to jobs online, there are several steps you can take to improve your chances of getting a call for an interview.

Companies posting jobs online receive hundreds of applications every day, so some use an application tracking system that screens candidates before the applications are reviewed by a recruiter or staff member. Below are 5 important steps you can take to strengthen your application.

Rank and prioritize online job postings

When doing an online search, you may find a lot of job postings. It is important that you read each posting carefully, as you will find information that will help you decide if the job is a good fit for you.

Given that many organizations use an application tracking system to filter candidates, you should be strategic about preparing your applications and focus on jobs that really interest you and that you are qualified for.  You can rank the application according to your level of interest in the job and prioritize in order to ensure that you are managing your time well.

Fill out all fields in the application

You can maximize your chances of getting a call for an interview if you make sure that all aspects of the application are filled out. If you leave a blank space recruiters may think that you are not very interested in the job and, in some cases, your application may also be considered to be incomplete.

If you do not have the answer to a question, you can always write “To be discussed.” This way, recruiters are aware that you are willing to discuss this information at an interview.

Pay attention to keywords

Once you submit an online application, it goes through an application tracking system that screens it according to specific keywords. As a result, it is important that you write your application and adjust your resume to include these keywords. Often, these keywords are terms associated with skills and experience in your field or terminology that is specific to your industry. For example, you may want to pay special attention to keywords related to:

  • Job titles,
  • Transferable skills, for example “time management”,
  • Technical skills, for example “web development”,
  • Names of computer applications such as Word, Excel or PowerPoint.

Remember that formatting is also important. In an online application, you may be told whether you should submit your application as a Word document or PDF file. Be sure to follow the instructions in the job posting. In addition, keep in mind that tables may be reformatted, so it is important to keep any documents that you submit clean and simple.

Always write a tailored cover letter

You may think that writing a cover letter is not necessary when you are completing an online application that asks you many questions. However, writing a cover letter can differentiate you from other candidates and gives you an opportunity to show employers your interest in and value for the position available.

Your cover letter should be clear and concise and you may want to refer back to some of the answers you provided in your online application and aspects of your resume. These connections may strengthen the overall application.

Proofread your application

Lastly, you should always read over your application a few times to make sure that the information you have provided is accurate and without grammatical errors. Even small mistakes could eliminate you from being considered for the job. You can avoid most mistakes by proofreading your application and any documents you may be submitting along with it.

For More Information

  • How do I apply for a job? – An article with information about job applications and tips on how to apply for a job. From Settlement.Or
  • - Comprehensive career site that includes cover letter and résumé writing guides, as well as industry-specific information. From
Last updated: December 1, 2016 4006189