How to Apply Online for a Job

In an increasingly digital marketplace, applying for jobs frequently entails electronically submitting your resume and cover letter. Certain businesses include online application forms directly on their websites. Here, you can select the job for which you want to apply, enter your work experience, skills, and education in online fields, and then submit your application with a single click.

Each online application form is unique and will require a different set of information. For instance, some employers require you to “copy and paste” your resume and cover letter into two separate fields. Others require applicants to complete a variety of fields, such as “work experience,” “education,” and so on. Others require you to submit both your resume and cover letter, as well as complete fields that require similar employment-related information.

Whichever type of online application form a company uses, ensure that all of your information is included in at least one field. Repetition is acceptable, especially if the form requires a resume and a separate breakdown of your work history. Your information will be automatically uploaded to an online database, where hiring managers will almost certainly conduct keyword searches. The more times your keywords appear in search results, the better.

While some businesses, particularly large ones, have online application forms, many others simply request that candidates email their application materials to the appropriate person or to a general employment address such as “” Caution is warranted in this instance. Make certain to send your resume and cover letter in the format requested by the hiring manager. Certain employers prefer separate attachments for the resume and cover letter (usually in a Text Only format or as Microsoft Word documents). Other employers prefer that the cover letter is included in the body of the email, but that the resume is attached separately. Others prefer to paste the resume and cover letter into the body of an email. For the latter, make certain that your documents are readable. When resumes, which have a rather complicated format, are pasted into the body of an e-mail, they frequently appear jumbled. According to recruiter Beth Camp: “If you email a resume, it must look just as professional as a paper resume. I would recommend including your resume as an attachment as well as in the body of your e-mail.” This is an excellent way to avoid a potential formatting disaster. Another option is to submit your resume and cover letter electronically, followed by hard copies.

Certain job seekers choose to purchase domain names and build their own websites in order to post their resumes (and other application materials) online. The advantage of using HTML to format your resume and creating a static Web page is that anyone can view it in its proper format simply by visiting your Website. Thus, rather than mailing or e-mailing your resume each time you want someone to see it, you can simply provide interested parties with the appropriate web address and they can find it on their own. Additionally, having your resume on a Web page may attract the attention of recruiters and employers you were unaware of. To make downloading your resume easier, you may want to include PDF (portable document format) and Microsoft Word versions of your resume on your Website.

Regrettably, there are drawbacks to posting your resume online. One disadvantage is that your information becomes publicly available, including to unwanted visitors. As a result, you should never reveal your home address, social security number, or any other personally identifiable information. Another disadvantage is that not all hiring managers will make a point of visiting your Website. Even if your resume is accessible via a single click, many hiring managers would prefer that you mail or e-mail it.

It would be unwise to go against an employer’s explicit wishes regarding how you send your application materials. For instance, avoid sending an attachment when copy-and-paste functionality is requested. Certain businesses avoid attachments out of fear of contracting a virus, lack of compatible software, or a desire to avoid the additional step of opening a document.

When compiling your application materials and composing an e-mail, leave the “to” field blank until you are finished. It is all too easy to send an incomplete e-mail to a company, thereby eliminating your chances of making a favorable first impression and, most likely, of being invited for an interview. If you were asked to copy and paste your resume and cover letter, make sure to scan the final product for formatting issues and then run it through a spell checker one final time.

If you are attaching documents, make certain you are sending the employer the correct versions (i.e., the company-tailored and updated versions). Additionally, ensure that they are properly labeled. One job seeker expresses regret over his decision to save multiple versions of his resume under titles such as “Resume for Strategic Sourcing Jobs.” As the job seeker puts it: “I was applying for three distinct job categories. However, I did not want every prospective employer to be aware of this. By labeling my outgoing resumes in this manner, I effectively broadcasted the fact that I lacked a defined career path.” Probably the best strategy for saving your resume is to do so solely in your name (example: Simone Piette resume) or in your name and the company’s name (example: Simone Piette resume) (example: Greenfield resume from Simone Piette). Be sure to include a description of the attachments in your e-mail, as well as the software you used. For instance, you could include the following in the body of your e-mail: “Please see my attached resume in Microsoft Word 2002.”

Before a hiring manager even opens your email, she should be aware of your identity and the job for which you are applying. In the “Subject” line, include your name, the title of the position (and, if applicable, the job number), and the contents of your application (example, “Simone Piette resume and cover letter for Executive Assistant Position”).

If you were referred to a position by another individual, be sure to “cc” (carbon copy) or “bcc” (blind carbon copy) your reference in your application. That is, include that person’s email address in the “cc” or “bcc” field, ensuring that they receive an exact copy of the email you are sending to the hiring manager. You want to “cc” or “bcc” your referrer in order to keep him informed. After all, if someone has offered to assist you, he or she should be aware of the stage of the application process at which you are. (Note: If your e-mail program does not include “cc” or “bcc” fields, you will need to e-mail your reference separately.)

Finally, save a copy of your outgoing e-mail in your “Sent Mail” folder in case the message fails to send and you must resend it.

91 thoughts on “How to Apply Online for a Job”

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