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Online applications, but the right way

13/05/2022 2022/05

Advantages and disadvantages of online applications

Online applications have many advantages. In fact, they are now one of the most common methods of applying. On the one hand, this is due to the much more efficient processing for the companies, especially if they are large corporations with a correspondingly high volume of applicant mail. The mailings can be easily and quickly organized in large quantities, stored, forwarded to other departments, and there is no effort or cost involved in sending documents back to the applicants. The recognition of the online application is therefore growing more and more. One could almost think that the times of the classic application folder are over.

The applicant also benefits from this development towards electronic submission. There is no need to buy folders and/or stamps for online applications. This saves costs, of course. In addition to the advantage that a digital application photo can be used as often as desired, the electronic route is shorter and a response often arrives more quickly than with postal communication. As a result, more applications can be sent out without hitting the wallet. In addition, applicants can check the current status of their application on the company's website.

But as practical as online applications are, they also hide pitfalls. For example, candidates cannot score points and attract interest with high-quality paper or an expensive portfolio. Instead, greater emphasis is placed on the qualifications, experience and certain unique selling points of all applicants, as well as the design of the individual documents. Additionally, new technologies allow for keyword scanning rather than a recruiter taking the time to look at each application individually. Accordingly, a cover letter tailored to these terms is becoming increasingly important.

    Online application by e-mail

    The most common means of applying online is still by email. According to a survey by the consulting website berufsstart.de in 2020, 85.71% of companies offer e-mail applications. Postal, on the other hand, is only offered by 37.41%. The online application form is represented in comparison to almost 50 %. There are a few things to keep in mind when applying by e-mail.

    • Sender: It is advisable to keep the e-mail address neutral and reputable, e.g. vorname.nachname@webseite.de. 
    • Recipient: A specific contact address is often given in a job advertisement. If this is the case, you should write directly to this address, not to the managing director or an anonymous address such as info@unternehmen.de. Concerning a spontaneous application, it is advantageous to write to a person known by name. This increases the chance that the e-mail will not be lost, but rather forwarded internally to the correct position in case of doubt.
    • Subject: A meaningful subject is important so that the e-mail is not overlooked in the inbox. The keyword “application” should appear. This should be accompanied by the specific job title and, if applicable, the reference number, which makes it easier to identify the position.
    • Content: The content of the e-mail is a brief introduction on your part, what you want from the company and the content of your attachment. This should be kept formal and polite. You can also mention at this point how you became aware of the company. However, avoid empty phrases. This part is not meant for persuasion, but rather as an announcement.
    • Signature: It is advisable to record your personal contact details in a signature line at the end of the email. This will directly make your email look more professional.
    • Attachments: The attachment contains all the required documents (cover letter, resume, references, other supporting documents). In the e-mail, point out the attached files so that nothing gets lost and make sure that the documents are properly labeled. All documents should be saved in PDF format and sent to the company in this format. Using this format avoids display problems on other operating systems or in other program versions. Make sure that the documents are easily readable and scanned, but the size of the files in the attachment should remain within limits. If you have numerous documents, you can also cluster them by topic, such as certificates or awards. This saves the HR department an enormous amount of time. 

    Expert tips

    1. Send the e-mail to yourself as a test. This way you can see how it arrives at the recipient, how it is formatted, and whether all attachments were included. If this test is passed, then the mail can be sent out to the recipient's address.
    2. In the text, kindly ask for a brief confirmation that the e-mail has arrived from the recipient. If there is no reply, a telephone inquiry can be made after one or two weeks.
    3. Always pay attention to the keywords used in your application. A recruiter has little time and many applications to work through, so texts are usually only skimmed at first in order to sift through the applicants. 
    A clipboard on which the application data is written down, with a biro
    Die Vorteile von Online-Bewerbungen sind zahlreich und aus diesem Grund sind sie mittlerweile eine der meistgenutzten Bewerbungsmethoden.
    Die Vorteile von Online-Bewerbungen sind zahlreich und aus diesem Grund sind sie mittlerweile eine der meistgenutzten Bewerbungsmethoden.

    Formal online application via the company's website

    As mentioned earlier, some companies want to receive the online application on a dedicated website. Others integrate a form under an advertised job posting as a way to contact them. In any case, on this application page there are some input fields where personal data (including full name, date of birth, contact details) and information about education, work experience, etc. are entered. It is important to make as many entries as possible to avoid being excluded from the application process due to incomplete data. In addition, companies examine their databases based on various keywords and thus filter out suitable applicants immediately.

    In a comment field, there is the possibility to formulate individual sentences. Here is space for the classic cover letter. A small tip: To avoid spelling mistakes, it is advisable to prepare the text in the word-processing program beforehand. This will give you additional confidence when writing.

    Sometimes companies ask you to answer their questions instead of the usual cover letter. These are intended to check whether you fit in with the corporate culture. The questions can be quite different. Occasionally, there is a minimum number of words, and sometimes you have to be very short to answer. Depending on this, your cover letter will be looked at later or may not be necessary at all. 

    When filling out the fields, be careful not to take too much time. Some company computer systems contain so-called timeouts for security reasons. This can cause important data and information to be lost when submitting the form.

    It is recommended that you use this opportunity to summarize, as in a conventional cover letter, why you are applying for this position, why it seems like a good fit for you, and why the company should choose you. Such a cover letter should be prepared individually for each job and for each company. Applications arrive at the company uniformly formatted, so the content and language of the cover letter are all the more significant.

    If this application channel is offered via the homepage, it should be used in any case. This is because companies may deliberately not consider applications that arrive by other means, whether by mail or e-mail. Often, companies have their own applicant pools in which you will be included, even if you do not get the job. After all, you may still stand out, but be more suitable for another position.

    Application website for online application

    A third way to apply online is to create your own application website where you can gather all the information you need about your resume, work experience, skills, photos, work samples, etc. Companies are usually alerted to the site's address in a short email, where they can read about the applicant:in great detail. However, looking at and reading through the website means additional work steps and more effort for the recruiter.

    An exception to this is applications for creative jobs, e.g., as a designer or layout artist. Then a website is the ideal place to present work samples and to stand out from the competition. However, it should always be viewed in addition to the “normal” application in order to keep the workload for the recruiter to a minimum.

    Online applicant profile

    The trend in online applications is increasingly leading to the creation of an online profile in social media in addition to the classic application or the online application and the incorporation of this in the application process. This primarily includes the well-known platforms Xing and LinkedIn. The employer can then contact the respective candidate. Such online application profiles are becoming more and more attractive when companies are looking for potential employees with suitable qualifications. This method is now used by 22.11% and thus definitely has future prospects. In addition, online assessment platforms have made it possible to send an application with practically one click through the so-called quick application. In the process, the company is sent the data in their profile to. Therefore, you also maintain their profiles, after all, recruiters are now actively looking for applicants and also like to write to them via social media. 

    What is your experience with the digital application process? Do you prefer to write emails or do you like to apply via online portals? 

    Sources: berufsstart.de  karrierebibel.de  studies-online.de

    About the Author
    Robin Seifert
    Junior Account Manager

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