The Beginner's Guide to Online Applications

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The gradsingapore Team
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Online application forms work like precision tools for recruiters, sifting through candidates by using specific criteria.

An online application form can take two to three hours to complete. Chances are that if you can submit it within 20 minutes, there’s something wrong.

Yes, online applications may be time-intensive, but they're also great ways to do yourself justice before employers once you get the hang of writing one.

Every employer will have their own customised online application form.

While some forms are just a basic platform through which you can upload your CV and covering letter, others will ask you questions about your skills and motivations, finishing with a box inviting you to provide further information about yourself.

Show, don't tell

Back up your statements with examples or details to prove your point. If you just provide unsubstantiated one-liners, recruiters can’t assess you and hence won’t invite you to an interview.

Don’t just say: "I gained commercial awareness through my internship" – talk about how you gained this knowledge, using a specific example for illustration!

In answer to questions about why you want the job, avoid taking cues from your primary school essays and writing answers along the lines of: "I’ve always wanted to be a..."

Recruiters have heard this before. Instead, talk about the aspects of the job that particularly appeal to you, or any related work experience you’ve done.

Shine like a STAR

The STAR technique is a great way of keeping your answers concise and to-the-point, especially when you are asked for an example of when you used a particular skill.

  • Describe the Situation
  • Describe the Tasks involved
  • Describe the Actions you took
  • Describe the Results

Write down anything that will enhance your application and that you haven’t mentioned elsewhere, such as the positions of responsibility you’ve held in the past.

Don’t be afraid to use sub-headings and bullet points – it’ll make it easier for recruiters to read, and that's never a bad thing.

Copying gets you a pasting

Always write each answer afresh. Don’t copy over an answer you’ve used on another form, no matter how similar the questions may seem.

Chances are, the answer won’t really address the question you’re being asked, and you’re very likely to accidentally leave in references to previous companies to which you’ve applied. That would be the biggest mistake you can make.

And, whatever you do, don’t copy and paste information directly from the employer’s (or even their competitors') websites!

They will know, and it will look very bad.

Check, check, check

Many otherwise impressive applications are often let down by simple little errors. Not all forms allow you to save your responses so that you can go back and check them, so:

Always draft your answers in a word-processing programme and save it there beforehand. If possible, have it checked by a careers adviser before you turn it in.

 Be sure to answer ALL the questions. If there is a question that does not apply to you, write "not applicable" or "N/A" in the appropriate box. This will show the employer that you at least took the time to consider the question.

Before you press "submit", check that there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes and that you have filled in every field.

• Ensure that you have written your e-mail address and mobile number correctly.

Lastly, it's a good idea to keep a copy for your own reference. Print out every page of the completed form before you turn it in.

You might just need to refer to your answers to remind yourself of what you wrote if you end up being called in for an interview.