Did you ever want to apply to a job, only to get blocked by the company’s online application site, which seems to be built specifically to prevent users from applying? I can’t tell you the hours I have wasted, yelling at a website “I already reset this [insert favorite expletive here] password.”
While I can’t can’t fix horribly, awkwardly designed job sites, I can at least give you a few tips to make the application process less painful.
Setting Up the Account - Keep a list of websites, usernames and passwords for job sites in one place and make sure to use a real email address.
Password Errors - Sometimes you will use the password reset feature, and still won’t be able to log in. When that happens, try to log in using another browser. This often does the trick. Also, note that some systems will allow you to set a password with symbols, but then won’t allow you to log in with those symbols, so switching to just letters and numbers when resetting the password can help. Why does this happen? My best guess is a number of companies use woefully outdated job systems that are limited by old protocols.
Resume Details - You should have a PDF or Word version of your resume handy for upload. In addition, create a plain text version of your resume. A plain text version is sometimes required so the application system can easily scan your resume for key words and experience. It also can make it a lot easier and faster for you to copy and paste portions of your resume, without worrying about weird formatting errors.
Make sure you have the following information available, even if you wouldn’t normally use some of these details on your normal resume:
Education - Know the official name of your major and type of degree (ex. Bachelor of Arts). Also, make sure you have the exact date you graduated in case it's requested (or at least the month and year). Have your GPA and major GPA available as well. Regardless of how many years ago you graduated, this is sometimes still required.
Positions - List out the start and stop dates of each role (sometimes dates are required, even if you normally only list your start and stop years). Break out each position into a separate section. Have bullets for each position.
Keeping References - Maintain a list of 3-5 references with each individual’s current contact info. and title. You can use your discretion as to what to share and what to leave off of the job application tool if a reference is required. I never give a reference for my current employer (use your best judgment), as I have heard stories of references being called before asking permission from the candidate.
Double-checking Work - When copying and pasting different sections of your resume, it’s really easy to make mistakes. Once you finish the application, review every section carefully to check for errors.
Completing online job applications can be a painful experience. By having all the potential information that you need readily available, you will be able to complete the application much faster and hopefully with a lot less frustration.