Stand Out Not Down! Make the Most of Your Online Job Applications

Online job applications are quick, easy and extremely efficient. But how do you convince the HR professional that you are perfect for the job? How do you stand out?

Today, sending online job applications is the norm. It is a quick, easy and extremely efficient process both for the hiring company as well as for the applicant. However, this also means that you are competing with thousands of other job applicants. You know you are perfect for the advertised position and will excel in the job, but how do you convince the HR professional, who has the task of sifting through thousands of applications?

Understanding Online Job Application Forms

Most online job application forms are created to select the best candidates. So read the job description carefully and see the selection criteria. Some of the criteria will be essential and others desirable. When applying, ensure that you have all the essential as well as few desirable abilities. This will help your application stand out.

Clock showing time for success

Time for Success with Online Job Applications

All forms start with easy questions, such as name and contact details. They then ask for qualifications, where you submit your education details.
After completing the easy bits, recruiters often throw in ‘Why?’ questions, such as “why you feel you are an ideal candidate” or “why you want to work for XYZ company”. Never be negative; instead think carefully and be positive. Mention something like the job offers you an opportunity to better apply your skills and further your career. Remember, it is important to highlight what you can do for an employer rather than what they can do for you.

Many organisations today ask competency questions to ensure that applicants have skills, like organizing, teamwork, managing, problem-solving, supervising, taking initiatives and good communication. So, when answering competency question, use the following method:

  • Describe a situation
  • Explain your role for that particular situation
  • Explain the action you took
  • Mention the result your action delivered

Be prepared to talk about your strengths and weaknesses. While many people just think that using one-word answers is what recruiters want, it is not true. Therefore, to make your application stand out, highlight your strengths by mentioning situations where you used them. When it comes to weaknesses, think of areas that you want to develop further. For instance, if you are an extrovert, you will be a good speaker. However, many extroverts also tend to speak before thinking. Or, if you are the type who is fixated by details, you need to remind yourself that you should look at the big picture.
Many recruiters and employers love to throw an odd question in. So, be prepared to answer a question like: “what two things you would take with you if you were stranded on a deserted island”. Questions like these test a job applicant for ideas and ability to lucidly explain their thoughts.

How to Get Your Job Application Noticed

It is important to present your skills and qualities coherently. This will get you to the next stage, which is the interview stage. Often, getting to the next stage is difficult because of the competition. So create a resume that highlights your best points and also makes you look appealing. Tweak your resume, so that it is unique and helps you move to the interview stage.

Refrain from using cliche

Do not use words, such as successfully, responsible for or developed. These are words that all applicants use and can make the HR personnel sick of reading them over and over. Instead, opt for unfamiliar phrases and words to stand out, but make sure that there is enough evidence to support these phrases and evidence. So, if you want mention that you are a team player, explain with an example why you think you are one.

Be to the point and neat

It is scientifically proven that people have short attention span. Therefore, you want to get to the point clearly and lucidly before the HR personnel lose interest in your application. Use bulleted style of writing to make reading easier. Organise the points in a logical and systematic manner. Highlight your past achievements and mention the abilities and skills you will bring to the company and how your contribution will make a difference. Always use examples to quantify your achievements. For instance, saying that you led a team for a research project does not say much about your achievements. However, if you say you led a team of 6 for a research project that helped your current employer save XXXX amount in operational costs will get noticed.

Use keywords

Be sure to incorporate keywords from the job advertisement in your application. This is because many employers are now using software to track keywords in online job application forms. This helps employers to screen out undesirable candidates. To figure out the keywords, reach the job advertisement carefully and note down the qualities and skills the employer wants from potential employees.

Bonus Advice

Today, online job applications are no longer sending a CV with a cover letter. Many online application forms are designed to screen out candidates and you do not want to be one of those. So, be professional and neat when submitting your form. Stay away from colours and stick to black-and-white, as you do not want your application to stand out for all the wrong reasons! While you may think that adding visual appeal may increase your chances of a follow-up interview, it does not make sense if the job has nothing to do with graphic designing. Instead, use bold and italics to highlight keywords and make it easier for the recruiter to read.


This has been a Guukle Guest submission by Minute Steak

This post was written in parternship with Badenoch & Clark, making your career work for you.