Applying for jobs has changed a lot over the past decade because of the internet. In the past, most people used to apply for jobs by post, over the phone or in person. Now, people have to make almost every single application online.
CVs, cover letters and references are no longer submitted in paper copies. They are now sent online to the recruiter either by email or on their website.
If you’re new to applying to jobs online, it can seem a bit overwhelming at the start. Before you start reading this guide, you should check our guide ‘How to search for jobs online’. This will help you find the right vacancy to apply for. You can check it out here:
Once you’ve found the right job for you, you’ll want to apply for it. Below, we have explained how to apply for jobs online. We’ve also explained how to make sure your application impresses the employer.
Before you apply
Before you try applying online for a job, there are a few things you should have ready first. This will make sure your application is great and you save time in the process.
We’ve broken it down into a checklist to make sure you have everything you need ready before you start. Feel free to print this page and tick off each item one by one once you’ve finished it.
Things to have ready before you apply:
- Working internet access. If you don’t have this, you can ask a neighbour or a friend to use theirs for a few hours to apply. Your local library will also have computers you can use to submit job applications.
- A professional email address which you have access to. This means don’t use an email address that you can’t remember the password of. If you can’t access it, you won’t be able to check if the employer has replied to your application. Also, don’t use an unprofessional email address which the employer will see. Professional means using something like [email protected] rather than [email protected]
- An up-to-date CV. This is one of the most important things to make sure you have ready before applying to any job. You need to make sure that the CV has correct, up-to-date contact details for you so the employer can get in touch. If your email address or phone number is not correct, then you may miss the job. Not sure how to write a CV? Check out our helpful guide on how to write one:
Once you have finished your CV, make sure to save it using an appropriate file name. If you save it as something like ‘myCV’ then the employer will not know who it belongs to if they misplace it. You should save it as ‘yournameCV.doc’ so if they lose it, they will be know who it belongs to.
- Contact details of your referees. Almost every single job will ask you to provide contacts for referees who can recommend you. These are usually previous employers who know what it is like to have you as an employee. You need to have their names, numbers, addresses and email addresses ready. To be on the safe side, you should prepare three possible referees. Most jobs ask for one or two, but same may ask for three.
- A detailed history of all the jobs you’ve had. This is a good thing to prepare before you start any application as you will need to write it each time you apply. Make sure you have the correct employment dates, your job title, and tasks you did each day recorded and ready to go.
- Your schedule and what hours you’re available to work. This is more relevant if you’re a parent or looking to work part time because you have other commitments in the week. Make sure you’ve written down and confirmed your availability each week before you apply.
- A cover letter. Not every job will ask you to provide a cover letter before you apply, but it may be something worth preparing. It will save you time in the future during any application if you have a good cover letter saved on your computer.
- Read the job description well before you start. If you aren’t qualified for the job or don’t fit the description, there’s no point spending a lot of time on an application. Chances are, your application will be unsuccessful.
Once you’ve finished this checklist and prepared everything you need, it is time to apply!
How to apply
Each job will have different application procedures and instructions. It depends on the company and what website you are using to apply. Some jobs will only have a few steps to apply. Others will have a much longer application process with different sections to complete.
But there are some things that you should follow when making any job application online. Below, we’ve broken them down into a checklist again. If you follow this well, your application is sure to impress the employer.
Again, feel free to print this out if it helps you follow the steps.
Things to remember when applying:
- Read job descriptions very well while you’re applying. They contain all the information you should include in your application. Try writing down each of the points from the description. Then try mentioning these things in each of your answers or your application.
- Follow all the application instructions. Before you submit your application, double check that you followed each step well.
- Try working offline first. Print the application off and try filling it out with a pen to practice your answers. This will make sure you’re ready to go when you apply properly. This will make sure your answers are well thought and you don’t make as many mistakes.
- Use the keywords they use. This is like the point above, but it is very important. Try using any keywords they include in the description again throughout your application. This will help the employer see why you are a good fit for this job. This will stand out on your application and increase your chances of getting the job.
- Tailor your experience to the specific job. Try to think out how your experience relates to the experience this vacancy is asking for. Do not include irrelevant experiences or jobs you’ve had as this will distract the employer. Try to frame each of your experiences in a way that shows you’re the perfect fit for the job.
- Be original. Don’t include things in your application that you’ve copied off the internet. Employers will know and it will ruin your chances of getting the job. Try and be original with everything you write and include things that describe you best as a person. It is good to use the internet for examples of CV formats or ways to phrase certain skills. But avoid copying and pasting anything someone else has written.
- Make sure the application is complete before you submit it! This may sound very simple and obvious but it is very important. Make sure you fill in every field on the job application and you’ve completed everything before you send it off. This will make you seem more thorough to the employer and it will work in your favour. Your application may seem lazy if you don’t fill in everything completely or give short answers.
- Get someone to double check the application before you submit it. Make sure it doesn’t have any spelling or grammar mistakes. Also make sure you have used full sentences throughout. This sounds simple but it is a quick thing you can do to make sure your application stands out from the crowd. If it is free of mistakes, the employer will see you’ve taken the time and effort to double check it.
- If possible, create an account on the website you’re using to apply. This will allow you to save your personal details and CV for future use. This will save you time if you use that website again to apply for other jobs.
- Check your social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you post things online to a public account, remember that an employer might look at these things. Try making your accounts private or taking down things that may seem unprofessional.
- Be honest. Of course you should try and frame your experience and skills in the best light to secure the job. But do remember to be honest on any application. If you’re not honest, the employer may be able to tell and you’ll you might not get the job.
- Check your email account often for any replies from the employer. If there’s nothing in your inbox, make sure to also check your spam folder. Sometimes important things can slip in there.
- Keep an eye on your phone and return any missed calls that you may have. This could be the employer trying to get in touch with you.
- Keep a written or digital record of all the jobs you’ve applied for. This will help you remember who you should follow-up with and what different roles you’ve applied for.
- If a few weeks have passed and you haven’t heard from an application, you should either call or email them. Ask for the progress of your application and if they have made a decision.. They may not have got round to looking at it yet, or maybe they responded to you but you missed it.
- Some employers are very bad at getting back to you and they make take a very long time. But, if you chase up with them and they still don’t get back to you, you should move on and make other applications. They may get in touch at a later date but chances are that application wasn’t successful and you should try again.
Once you have finished these things on our checklist, you can hit ‘submit’!
After you apply
Once you submit your application online for a job, the work doesn’t stop there. There are a few things to do after you send off your application. This will make sure you don’t miss any replies from the employer.
Again, feel free to print these off to make sure that you are on top of any applications you send.
Things to remember after you apply: