With the move away from traditional paper based job application forms and tests towards an online medium, candidates now have the opportunity to apply for jobs in greater volumes than before. Although this brings its benefits to the jobs market, there are pitfalls that candidates need to take into considering when applying, especially in regards to how their application comes across. 

Many job seekers wrongly employ a tactic of quantity over quality by rushing through the application process. However it is just as important for candidates to realise that online based selection processes are just as rigorous as the traditional form they replace, so diligent care must still be given.

Below we have listed the most common mistakes that job seekers make in their online job applications and tests and offer remedies of how these can be avoided.

Read, read and read again!

Many online application forms and tests will require applicants to read through carefully selected questions. To give yourself the best opportunity to formulate an answer you must read over any statements slowly. Ideally if you are completing a test based application, you should have set time aside to avoid being under pressure to finish quickly which could see you choosing the wrong answer or to misread what it is the application is asking you for. Try reading the questions aloud so that they are clear in your own mind, before you respond.

Failing to check for spelling mistakes

Just like your CV, you must double check your application for any spelling mistakes. Employers can gauge a lot from your application, any spelling mistakes will appear unprofessional. You do not want to give an employer a reason not to employ you because you haven't taken a few minutes to look over your application. Remember, the jobs market is extra competitive and you must do everything within your control to stand out in a crowd. Online spell checkers can sometimes be unreliable, so if you are unsure of how a word is spelt remember to consult a dictionary. Sometimes it can be hard to spot mistakes if you are trying to read a lot of text. To overcome this, one tactic you can employ is to cover up a paragraph with a piece of paper, and then move it down to reveal one line at a time to spot individual errors.

If you are completing a test then you may find yourself up against a time limit. This added pressure can throw a lot of candidates off. They may feel under stress to get their questions or responses 'right' so may leave checking for mistakes to chance. If possible, try not to let nerves control you as they could affect the answers you give, due to thinking about the next stage of the recruitment process. To try to relax by taking a deep breath and then read the questions slowly. Positive thinking will help you to overcome your nerves, if you imagine yourself giving good answers in the test then this will help your confidence.

Worrying about giving the correct responses

With online tests in particular candidates will sometimes have to select responses that apply to them, based on a scale (normally from strongly disagree to strongly agree). Sometimes the questions themselves can be worded in similar ways that can cause some candidates to panic for fear of being 'tricked' by the questions. This can cause candidates to sometimes over-think their responses to the questions with the adverse affect of them giving answers based not on their honest responses, but ones that they feel the employer wants to hear. However it is important to be honest with yourself as if you make it through to an interview in the next stage, any discrepancies will be picked up. Conversely many employers have the software in place that is able to detect patterns in online answers that are trying to create a 'favourable impression', remember honesty is the best policy. 

In conclusion

The ways in which candidates can apply for jobs has changed to keep up with the pace of technology, and this needn’t be a barrier in stopping candidates in pursuing their career.  You must still approach your application with the same amount of vigour and dedication as any previous paper based medium, and candidates always need to be sure they do not ‘cut corners’ just to save time that is inevitably needed with the job hunting processes of today. 

Written by Jennifer Megafu

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