Online application forms can be very off putting. They ask difficult questions, some of which you may consider unnecessary, others irrelevant. So why are they used?
Most potential employers still rely on CVs, however, large organisations that receive huge numbers of job applications generally prefer to use their own application form. By using these forms they get answers to the questions they want answered not just the information you decide to give. They can also more easily compare one application with another, which is much more difficult with CVs. This is why some of the larger banks and finance institutions require CVs in a set format with exam results and detailed information on qualifications and previous positions included in a specific layout.
Over the last ten years there has been a steady growth of online application forms and increasingly online job boards have replaced hard copy job adverts. A widely used online application platform for PA/Secretarial roles is secsinthecity.com and they are easy to use and quick to sign up to. It is really important that you complete all the information and make sure that your most current and professional CV is the one that is uploaded. Half completed applications or old CVs can get through, particularly if you have applied online in the past.
It should be relatively straight forward to write a person specification with details of the education, skills and experience necessary from reading the job advert you wish to apply for. If a degree is essential or 5 years + PA experience in professional services, you must make sure that you include all the relevant information. It can be disheartening to constantly apply on line and hear nothing back; if this is happening you should consider the positions you are applying for and how your experience fits, or not.
The application form is designed to discover evidence that you have all the essentials and perhaps some of the desirable abilities as well. Your task is to demonstrate that you have these.
Points to note for on-line applications:
- Make sure you read the questions carefully and answer them fully. If a question includes two or three additional questions, answer all of them.
- Write your first draft in a separate document and check it for spelling and grammar, before cutting and pasting into the application form.
- Do use spell checks, but be wary of them. If you write ‘from' instead of ‘form', for example, it will not be picked up. For UK applications avoid those that introduce American spellings.
- Be careful if you are taking material from another application not to include the name of the other organisation, or wording geared to a different position.
- Keep your answers to the point and avoid long descriptive paragraphs.
- Your final check should always be to read it through ideally by a third party who knows you and can give constructive comments!