Online applications: Do's and Don'ts

By Hannah Vernon, Media & Communications at Gradcracker

Do your homework

Firstly, you need to make sure that you are well suited to the role you are applying for. Find out what the company is all about and see if you align with their values. Research what the role entails and decide what skills make you the best person for the job. This knowledge will form the basis of your online application, so it’s important that you know your stuff!

“Find those companies that really speak to you – whether it’s about the culture or the projects – really research them and then prioritise which ones you’re going to apply for” – Atkins

Demonstrate that you’re a unique candidate.

Make a list

Think about your past experiences: things you have achieved, things that you have overcome and that you could improve on.

This will help you develop an understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, which you can then use to convey your motivations and/or suitability to the role.

“Get your strengths, weaknesses and experiences down on a page and then work out how you’re going to fit those into the questions that are being asked” – Arup

Use as many examples as you can

In your online application, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re a unique candidate.

Bring in as many examples as you can of things you have done or been involved in – work experience, extra-curricular activities and so forth. These will all help to frame you as a rounded individual with a variety of skills.

“Use it as an opportunity to discuss any teamworking, individual contributions, how you’ve overcome a challenge…prove you’re a unique candidate” – MBDA

Tailor it!

There are lots of things you can do right in your application. But if you haven’t tailored it to the employer and the role you are applying for, your application isn’t going to stand out. Employers are looking for more than a list of skills, qualifications and achievements – they want to understand why you want the role and what it means to you.

“We want graduates to come and work for us who have the same goals and the same ambitions, so when you’re answering the application questions, tell us why you want to work for us” – Johnson Matthey

Make use of the space

For each answer, you’ll most likely have a maximum word count. The employer is giving you this space to demonstrate your knowledge, skills, experience and motivations – so use it! Without repeating yourself, really make the most of the space you are given by expanding on your answers and substantiating your claims.

“You should be covering three to four detailed points per question to ensure that you have the best chance to display your research, skills and behaviours” – Mace

The right kind of copy and paste

As I’ve already mentioned, tailoring your application is extremely important, so don’t copy and paste answers straight from one job application to the next.

However, it’s a good idea to initially write your answers in a separate computer programme, like Word, as many online application systems won’t pick up spelling and grammatical errors. Then, you can copy and paste your answers into the online application form!

“You might want to use a separate application like Word or Google Docs to carry out spelling and grammar checks” – MBDA

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