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I remember the good old days when you have to buy fancy resume paper and snail mail your resume and application for consideration – wait, did I just age myself? Online applications have eased the process significantly, but they are also annoying and painstakingly time consuming.

People have whined to me about this for ages, that I thought I’d look into creating a business where I would submit people’s online applications all day long (any takers?). So, I’m cracking the code and showing you how to hack online applications.

The Online Application Guide

1. Understand how the online application process works.

Hate to break it to you, but when you apply online, especially in a large company, the first scan is done by the computer program. There are typically pre-qualifying questions or requirements for each posted position.

If you do not answer those questions correctly, your resume will not be seen by the sourcer (a person whose only job is to scan through resumes and applicants to scout out the best potential fit). Do not lie or fib on your application, for any reason – especially not to try and circumvent the system.

That being said, I’m telling you this so you stop wasting your time applying for positions you truly aren’t qualified for, and then getting upset when you are not contacted. You were most likely, prescreened out by the system.

But let’s say that you do have all of the relevant experience and included the specific buzz words in your resume and responsibilities sections, your resume is then added to the applicant pile that looks like an inbox, for a sourcer or recruiter to view. Your online application will have about five seconds (that’s being generous) to impress the recruiter into opening your attached resume.

The information captured by the system is what is readily shown – so make sure you actually complete it! From there, your resume and cover letters are reviewed and the interview process begins.

Oh, and there are just annoying parts of certain online apply systems – acknowledge it and move on. Complaining about how many drop-downs you have to select or asking why a brilliant Silicon Valley tech god hasn’t invented the one and done apply app, will not help get your resume in front of the recruiter.

2.  Get organized.

Before you even start, be sure that you have the following ready to go: resume template – pdf file for the upload and Word doc for the copying and pasting, cover letter template in Word, a work-appropriate email address, a desired log in name (one other than your email address), a password that you will remember (must be 8 characters long with one capital and one number), and a word document at your fingertips.

I’d recommend having everything on a jump drive or saved on Dropbox.com so you have everything at your fingertips regardless of the computer you are accessing.

3.  Use a browser that can auto-complete your information.

I recommend using Google Chrome, but be sure to delete any already saved profiles. You want this to be easily entered when you reach the fields, so clear everything out and create a job-apply profile.

Have it auto-complete and save everything. At times it will put the wrong information in a field, but the time it saves you, outweighs the blips. Trust me.

4.  Use the same log-in information.

In case you missed that detail in tip number 1, have an already thought-out log-in name and password at your fingertips. Use the same information for every application.

5.  Have attachments ready to include.

Do not leave anything to chance when it comes to the recruiter, but be smart about what you include. Have a PDF of your resume as an attachment and be sure to have copied/pasted your cover letter.

Other attachments to consider: a sample or two of your work or anything that is a truly exceptional addition to your application. Do not attach your transcripts, letters of recommendation (unless this was specifically asked for), a photograph of yourself, or anything else – keep it to a minimum.

Want a step-by-step guide with a few more tips? Click here to read more.

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