Small how to guide for your online application
We show you what you should take into consideration when writing and submitting an e-mail application, as well as how you should complete an online form.
Advantages and disadvantages of applying online
One benefit of online job applications is the fact that the company can process the application much more efficiently, particularly in the case of large businesses who receive a correspondingly high number of applications. These submissions can easily and quickly be organised, stored, and sent to other departments in large quantities while avoiding the cost of sending documents out to candidates. As such, companies are increasingly recognising the benefit of online job applications.
Candidates also benefit from this trend towards electronic submission. Online applications save them the cost of a stamp or an envelope, while a digital application photo can be used as many times as desired. In addition, the electronic process is shorter and often results in a faster response than postal communications. Finally, candidates have the ability to check the current status of their application on the business’s website.
However practical online applications may be, there are also some hidden pitfalls. For instance, applicants can’t aim to impress with high-quality paper or use an expensive document folder to attract the employer’s interest. Instead, all applications place greater value on qualifications, experience, the design of individual documents, and any individual characteristics that make the candidate stand out.
Online applications by e-mail
The most frequently used method of online applications is e-mail. According to a survey by the online jobs market, StepStone, 75% of businesses make use of e-mailed job applications. Here are a few things to bear in mind with this approach:
Sender: You should use a neutral, credible and serious e-mail address, e.g., email@example.com.
Recipient: Job applications often require mail to be sent to a specific recipient. If that is the case, you should write directly to this address, and not to the CEO or a general, anonymous mailbox such as firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are making a speculative application, it is beneficial to write to a named individual. This increases the chance that the e-mail will not be lost, and, if necessary, that it will be forwarded to the right person.
Subject: A clear and expressive subject line is an important way to reduce the chance of the e-mail being overlooked in the in-tray. The keyword “Application” should be included, as well as the specific job reference and, if applicable, the reference number, to help make sure that the e-mail ends up in the right place.
Content: The e-mail content is the cover letter, which also appears for a second time as an attachment. The style is similar to a business letter: formal, neutral, and polite and, as with a traditional application, delivered with an individual touch. Remember to go into detail about how you learned about the business.
Signature: It is recommended that you provide your personal contact details in a signature line at the end of the e-mail.
Attachments: The attachments contain all documents that have been requested (cover letter, CV, references, and any other documentation). In the e-mail, refer to the attached documents, so that nothing is overlooked. Pay attention to labelling the documents correctly. All documents should be saved in PDF format to be sent to the company. Using this format allows you to avoid display problems on different computer systems or program versions. Ensure that documents are clearly legible and well scanned - but keep file sizes to a sensible level.
Send the e-mail to yourself as a test. This allows you to see what the recipient will actually receive, how it’s formatted, and whether all documents have been correctly sent. If the e-mail passes this test, it is ready to be sent to the recipient’s address.
In the text of the e-mail, politely ask for a short confirmation that the e-mail has been received. If you don’t get a response, consider a follow-up phone call after a week or two.
Formal online applications via the company website
Some companies manage their online applications via their own custom websites that are designed for this purpose, while others add the option of contacting them via a form attached to a job listing. Application sites will always contain some data entry fields for candidates to provide their personal data such as their full name, date of birth, and contact details, as well as information about their education, professional experience, etc. It is important to provide as much data as possible to avoid being excluded from the application process due to insufficient data. Additionally, companies search through their databases using a variety of keywords in order to filter suitable candidates.
A comment field provides the option of adding individual sentences. This is the place for a traditional cover letter. A quick tip: avoid typographical errors by drafting the cover letter offline.
When completing the fields, pay attention that you do not spend too long on doing so. Some business computer systems contain time-outs for security reasons. When submitting, you can, therefore, lose important data and information.
It is recommended that you use the opportunity to summarise why you are applying for this job, why it is suitable for you, and why the company should hire you, just as you would in a traditional cover letter. This kind of cover letter should be prepared individually for every position and every company. Companies receive cover letters with standard, consistent formatting, which makes their content and language even more important.
If you have the option of applying via the website, you should always use this approach. In certain circumstances, companies will deliberately not look at any applications that are received by other methods, including post or e-mail.
Your own job application website
A third option for online job applications is for candidates to create their own job application websites, containing all information about your CV, professional experience, skills, photos, internships, etc. Generally, businesses would be notified about the website address via a short e-mail and can then find out about the candidate’s full details in their own time. However, finding and viewing that website does entail additional workload for the recruiter.
However, applications for creative positions, such as graphical or website designers, are an exception to this rule. For these roles, candidates’ own websites provide the ideal location to present their portfolio and stand out from the competition. This kind of website should always be seen as an add-on to the “standard” application, to reduce the workload on the recruiter where possible.
Social media profile
The trend towards online applications continues to encourage the creation of social media profiles, with this profile being incorporated into the application process alongside standard online applications. Examples include well-known platforms such as LinkedIn and e.g. Xing in German speaking countries. The employer can get in touch with the relevant candidates. Social media profiles are becoming increasingly attractive when businesses are searching for potential employees with appropriate qualifications.
What has been your experience with the online application process? I’m looking forward to receiving your e-mails.