When you're looking for a new job, many of your applications will be completed online either directly on an employer website or via a job board. Before you start job searching, you should first prepare to complete online job applications. It requires gathering all the information you'll need to apply. It will be easier to get your applications in if you have all the employment information employers want on hand.
Review the best sites to look for jobs, how to upload your resume and cover letter, the information you'll need to provide, and tips on how to streamline the application process.
What You Need to Apply
To apply for a job online and to complete online job applications, you'll need Internet access, an email address to use for job searching, an up-to-date resume, a cover letter for some jobs, your employment history, and your availability to work if you're applying for a part-time job.
Get Your Resume Ready
Before you start looking for jobs and completing online job applications, you'll need an updated version of your resume ready to upload. You may also need a cover letter to apply for some jobs.
Make sure your resume includes your current contact information and work history. Save your resume as yournameresume.doc, rather than with a generic file name like "resume." This way, the hiring manager will connect you with the resume when they review it. Here's how to name your resume and cover letter.
Have a basic cover letter ready that you can customize for each job you apply to. You should always include a cover letter when applying for a job unless the job listing specifically says not to.
Some sites let you upload an existing resume from Microsoft Word on your computer with the click of a button. Sometimes you will be asked to convert the document to a PDF or other kind of file. On other sites, you may need to copy and paste your resume into an online profile or use a resume builder that is incorporated into the job application system.
Know Your Employment History
Have the details of your employment history ready. Online application systems typically ask for the same information as paper job applications, including your contact information, educational background, and employment history including job titles, starting and ending dates of employment, and salary for each position.
You may need the full address of your previous employers, along with the phone number of the company and your supervisor's name.
Review Sample Job Application Forms
Download a sample job application form and complete it before you start your online applications. Print and fill it out, so you know exactly what information you will need to enter when you apply for jobs online.
Use the completed sample job application as a guide when you're completing your job applications.
Also, review this list of questions asked on a job application to prepare to fill out applications.
Create Accounts on Job Sites
Some job boards and company websites require users to create an account when they apply for jobs. It's a good idea to start your online job search by creating an account on at least one of the major job boards including Monster, CareerBuilder, and Dice for tech jobs. If you're seeking a professional position, it's also important to create a profile on LinkedIn.
To create an account, you'll need to register with a current email address so that your account can be confirmed. Your username will either be your email address or a name you select. You'll be able to choose a password for your account.
Some sites allow job seekers to register with their Facebook or LinkedIn information. On those sites, you'll able to use your Facebook or LinkedIn username and password to access the site. You may also be able to import your employment history from the site you use to connect.
Most jobs sites provide a system for job seekers to post a resume online. After you upload your resume, you'll be able to use it to quickly apply for jobs on the site.
Depending on the site, you'll be able to make your resume viewable for employers which will give your job search extra exposure.
Use Job Search Keywords
When you look for jobs online, the most effective way to search is to use job keywords to find jobs in the career fields and industries you are interested in.
Keywords can be more effective than using the predefined search options in the job banks because they search the entire listing (job description, job title, contact information, etc.) for the keyword(s) that you use.
Create a list of job search keywords that reflect your job interests, including the location where you want to work, type of position, industry, etc. Also, review these lists of skills for resumes so that you can match your skills to the job requirements.
Search for Jobs Online
In addition to using job boards (which post jobs submitted by employers), using a job search engine can save you a lot of online job search time. When you use a job search engine, you can search for jobs found across various job boards and employer websites.
For example, the job search engine Getwork searches for jobs on company websites, so all the listings you get will be current openings. Indeed.com searches jobs on job boards, newspapers, associations, and company websites, including most of the Fortune 1000 companies.
Search using the job search keywords list you created and you'll get a list of job openings that match your specifications very quickly. When you click on a job opening, you'll get instructions on how to apply and/or be directed to a company website to apply.
Apply for Jobs on Company Websites
Company websites are a good source of job listings, especially if you know what companies you are interested in working for. You can go directly to the site and search for and apply for jobs online directly on many company websites. At most company sites, you can apply for all level positions online – from part-time hourly jobs to top management positions.
Apply directly on the company website whenever possible, even if you find the listing elsewhere. Your application will go directly into the company's applicant tracking system and you'll be able to monitor its progress.
When Are You Available to Work?
Especially when applying for part-time jobs, you may be asked what days and hours you are available to work. Know your schedule and availability before you apply.
If you are flexible with your schedule, be sure to emphasize this in your job application (and later in your interview). Employers appreciate job candidates who are willing to work flexible hours and work shifts that others might not want to take (such as night, evening, or weekend shifts).
Job Application Instructions
It's important to follow all instructions when applying for jobs online. You may need to fill out a profile, upload your resume and cover letter, and/or take an employment test as part of the online application process.
Regardless of how you apply, it's important to follow the company's application instructions, to submit all the required materials, and to carefully proofread your application before you click the "Submit" button.
Keep track of the job site accounts you create so you can track your applications, apply for more jobs, and keep your resume updated. Here are the best ways to organize your job search.
Email Job Applications
In addition to applying for jobs directly online, you may also need to apply via email.
Some employers, especially smaller companies, don't have systems in place to handle online job applications. There is a right way – and wrong ways – to send your resume and cover letter.
One important thing to do early in the job search process is to set up a professional email account for your job search. Avoid unprofessional email addresses like email@example.com. Stick to addresses that simply include your name and some numbers.
Here's information on how to apply for jobs via email, including how to attach your resume and other documents, what to include in your email message, what to put in the subject line, and what information you need to include in your email signature.
Along with filling out a job application online, you might also be asked to take an employment test. Some tests, called talent assessments, assess your skills or even your personality to see if you are a good fit for the job and company. Sometimes you are told immediately after taking the test whether you moved on to the next round of the hiring process or not. Others take more time.
There are many other kinds of pre-employment tests, including cognitive tests and emotional intelligence (EI) tests. Read here for more information on the kinds of tests you might be asked to take online, and how to handle them.
Online Job Application Follow-Up
If you have contacts at the company, they may be able to help get your job application noticed by the hiring manager.
After sending your application, check LinkedIn for contacts you may have at the company. If you have a contact, ask for a referral or an introduction, if a contact person is listed in the job posting. If there is no contact person listed, ask if your acquaintance knows who is on the hiring committee, and ask for an introduction.
Here's more on how to find contacts at companies.