We're not going to sugarcoat it.
Filling out long, tedious, and boring job applications can be a soul-crushing task.
There’s nothing more frustrating than going through the process of filling out job applications...over and over again...and not getting results.
You hate it even more when you are unemployed and applying to jobs all day.
The process doesn’t have to be so bad!
We know this because we provide a service for our clients to fill out applications for them.
So we are here to help make filling out job applications a little more bearable and get you on the road to a new job!
You are already attaching your resume so why on earth do you have to fill out an application?
Oftentimes, understanding the “whys” of doing something makes it easier to do.
There are a few reasons why companies make you fill out these repetitive forms. Some of the reasons are actually for the benefit of applicants.
Reasons a job application is required:
- Companies need to ensure that applicants are including factual information. They ask you to sign the application stating that the information you have provided is correct.
- The hiring company receives all the information they need. Your resume may not include all the information the company would like to see to make their decisions.
- A uniform application form makes the application process standardized for all applicants. It is easier for decision-makers to compare applicants if the same form is completed by everyone.
- You verify your understanding of policies and give permission to collect information. This includes things like drug test requirements, background checks, and voluntarily providing EEOC information.
A very effective way of dealing with the frustrating process of filling out an online job application is to prepare as much as possible before you start the process.
The phrase, “A stitch in time saves nine,” may be a little old fashioned, but it really applies here.
Do the work upfront so that every time you complete an application, you have the information at your fingertips.
Here’s a checklist to complete before you start applying for jobs:
- Update your master resume and LinkedIn profile.
- Copy and save your resume as a separate non-formatted, text version so you can copy and paste from it easily.
- List each of your previous jobs with start and end dates, supervisor's name(s) and contact information, addresses, salary, reason for leaving, and other relevant details.
- List your education details with dates, degrees, certificates, and academic achievements.
- List 3 to 7 professional references, their contact info, job title, and some information on your relationship. Don’t forget to contact your references first!
- Research salary information for the jobs you will be applying to. You may be asked for it on the application. Offering a range is better than using an exact number.
- Check out some generic job applications online to get a feel for how information is asked for.
Top Tip: Create a master resume that you can tweak as needed to target different jobs. It may include all of your work experience, but you delete some of the non-relevant information depending on the job you are applying for. You may also choose to have two or more master resumes to adjust if you are targeting different enough roles.
When dealing with boring and repetitive work, knowing your workload and planning for it helps to deal with the annoyance of it.
It’s the same with online job applications.
If you set reasonable goals, it will be much easier to manage the process and know if you are being productive or not.
First, let’s make a few things clear about completing applications so you can set some realistic goals.
The time it takes to fill out applications:
It takes approximately 25 minutes on average to find a job, 20 minutes to apply to it, and 15 minutes to customize the resume.
This estimate of an hour is if you have all the information and documents ready to go.
If you’re a perfectionist, add another 30 minutes! In all seriousness, you know your work habits, so add more time if needed.
The number of applications that should be completed:
A good goal to have is to complete 3 to 6 applications per week if you are employed, and 7 to 10 if you are unemployed.
This may not sound like enough applications. But an effective job search will focus on quality over quantity.
A lot of frustration and wasted time will come from applying for the wrong jobs or for jobs that are already filled.
You should be applying to jobs that you meet 70% or more of the qualifications for. Use quality job search sites to find current openings.
You know your situation. If you need a job like yesterday, then aim for a higher number of applications. If you have other obligations and a new job isn’t urgent, you can plan for fewer applications per week.
One of the best ways to fill out job applications is to start organized and stay organized.
Keeping the application process organized will require some extra time with each application, but will save you time in the long run.
Here are some tips to organize your job search:
- Schedule time in your day to dedicate to searching for jobs and completing applications. Just bookmark any jobs you are interested in and apply later.
- Use a spreadsheet to keep track of your applications. It should list the information about a job that you want to apply for, including the job posting and what you have completed in the process. Create your own tracking sheet or check out the one by TheMuse.
- Consider adding reminders to your calendar so you don’t miss application deadlines or follow-up emails as an extra precaution.
- Using project management software for your job search can help you document, organize, and set reminders. Check out free plans with services like Trello, ClickUp, and Teal.
- Create a separate place - a folder or an account - on a cloud file management service to store all of your online job applications and related files. Create a separate folder for each job application to access it easily in the future.
We know you probably already know how to fill out a job application, but we would be remiss if we didn’t include some reminders.
9 Tips to Complete A Job Application:
- Before completing the job application online, consider copying the form and completing it offline in a word document. This will safeguard you from any technical issues and help you with spelling and grammar checks.
- Do not leave any input area empty on your job application form. Fill out the application completely with “N/A” where necessary. If you can include your cover letter, do so.
- If you can attach documents to the application, attach copies of your relevant certificates, licenses, awards, etc. if applicable.
- Keep in mind that you don't have to answer any questions related to your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, and disabilities.
- In some states, it’s illegal for interviewers to ask about your salary history.
- Make use of the “additional comments” section of a job application. Leverage the aspects of your skills, experience, and accomplishments that you could not utilize in other sections. But keep everything aligned with the job requirements.
- Don’t use abbreviations or industry jargon. Write your qualifications in full using the exact words from the job posting.
- Answer the questions on the application truthfully. It’s just not worth the risk of getting caught.
- Once you complete the application, proofread and edit it. You want it to be error-free, clear, and easy to read. Spell check programs don't catch everything!
Once you start filling out a couple of applications, you will get the hang of it and start to feel like a job application superhero!
Filling out job applications day in and day out is hard.
But you can save yourself from some frustration by adopting a few measures:
- Do the bulk of the work upfront so you have everything ready to go for each application you complete.
- Set reasonable goals and expectations about the number of jobs you will apply for in a day or week.
- Use tools to keep track of your applications and stay organized.
We should also inform you that there are more ways to take the pain out of your job search and applying for jobs.
If you absolutely hate filling out job applications, there are professional services that apply to jobs for you for a monthly or per application fee.
Let our Career Finder Reverse Recruiters find and apply to jobs for you while you get to do what truly matters to you.
Our Job Searching career coaching session will teach you more about finding the right jobs to save you even more time and frustration.