Submitting online job applications can be a long and tedious process. However, it is a critical job search component and rushing through the application can lead to costly mistakes. Employers use online applications to gather critical data about prospective employees and to evaluate applicants based on experience, continuity of employment, educational background, and overall potential. An application is a legal document and when you complete an application, your signature and/or submission of the application certifies that the information you provided is accurate and true. Your job application creates a strong first impression so you’ll want to make sure to avoid these top job application blunders:
- Poor spelling and grammatical errors. Like your cover letter and resume, one mistake can send your application to the discard pile.
- Incomplete information or unanswered questions. You want to make sure to follow instructions carefully and complete the entire application. If a question does not apply, put “N/A” in the response section.
- Not applying for a specific position. Always make sure to select or list the job title to which you are applying. Avoid stating that you are applying to “Any” position or “Will Do Anything”.
- Incomplete work history or large unexplained gaps in work history. Include all positions held over date range requested. Double check your dates (most applications will want month and year for start date and end date) and make sure your application aligns with your resume and social media profiles. Provide all data requested which can include company address, phone number, job title, supervisor’s name, salary, start date, end date, responsibilities, and reason for leaving. Address gaps in employment (if longer than 6 months) by including time spent as student, volunteering or other professional experiences.
- Saying “Please See Resume”. You don’t want to skimp on the responsibilities section of the application. If you already have a strong resume, incorporate the information from your resume into your application. Make sure to highlight your skills and accomplishments for each position utilizing key words from the job description.
- Use of problematic words, such as "quit" or "fired". You want to be honest, however, try to include only neutral or positive information. Some “Reasons for Leaving” include: Returned to school, Company reorganized, Changed careers, Relocated, Business closed, Contract ended, General lay off due to economic downturn, and New job opportunity.
- Abbreviations of degree, school, and other application information. Although the abbreviations may seem standard or obvious to you, the person initially reviewing your application may not be familiar with the abbreviations and miss key information.
- Forgetting to include additional relevant information. Make sure to add certifications, licenses, or any additional relevant training. You may be asked to provide license/registration numbers and/or expiration dates. Also, if relevant to the position to which you will be applying, you’ll want to consider including awards and recognition, additional languages, technical/computer skills, volunteer experiences, memberships and associations, and publications.
- Not letting your references know that you are using them as reference. Keep in touch with your references to let them know when you have included them as a reference on your application and for what type of position. Professional references are the most preferred type of reference. Professional references are people who can talk about the quality of your work and can include supervisors, co-workers, former customers/clients, teachers, instructors, mentors, volunteer connections, etc. Professional references do not include family members.
- Only submitting an online job application. Even if your application is perfect, you may not hear back from the employer. In addition to submitting an online application, make sure to research the employer, leverage your network, and utilize LinkedIn to find ways to personally connect with individuals within the organization to which you are applying. Finding ways around the online application process will greatly increase your chances of obtaining an interview.
Investing time now to gather standard job application information can save you time in the long run and prevent costly errors when filling out online applications in the future. For answers to additional job application or career questions you may have, please contact WGU Career & Professional Development. We look forward to assisting you in reaching your career goals!