It is now rare for companies to accept paper applications. Most organizations have moved to online applications for purposes of efficiency and usability. Although that may be advantageous to the corporation, it is less than desirable for the applicant. The completed application goes into a Human Resources Information System (HRIS) that is overwhelmed with thousands of other applicants who have applied. However, all is not lost. There are things you can do as a candidate to overcome the anonymity of the online application process.
First, make sure you familiarize yourself with the online application and take time to carefully complete it. Be scrupulous in ensuring you have taken all the necessary steps to complete the application. This means you have inputted all the information requested as well as the correct information. Explore the company site to understand all the functionalities of the application. For example, some online applications will allow you to schedule an appointment or attach a resume. This is particularly important because your application may not progress in the interview process unless you have completed all portions of the application in its entirety. Also, nothing is more frustrating to a human resources representative than having an applicant physically stop in to inquire on their incomplete application. If you have trouble completing an application, chances are not good for you to be in the running for the position.
After you are certain you have completed the application, an emphasis on CERTAIN, visit the local human resources office to follow up. This will put a face and a personality on the application so it is important that you do this properly. Dress as you would if you were to interview for the position. It shows have taken time to prepare. Ask HR who you can speak with about the position you have applied for. Be specific about the position and state the title of the position verbatim, it shows you have been focused on getting this particular position with the company. Ask the HR person about the position and allow them to explain the job so you have a better understanding of what it will entail. This will help you prepare for the interview. It will also allow you to give a short pitch about yourself. This pitch should be relevant to the job but make sure to throw a piece of your personality into it. It should involve your enthusiasm in finding the position and a little blurb on why it fits you. Sell yourself in the few minutes you have but don’t overdo it. Do not go into an oratory of why you are the greatest thing since the internet. Keep it simple but personable, professional but fun. Also avoid telling the person how badly you need a job or that you are willing to do anything. Those kinds of statements shout out “I am desperate”. Obviously you need a job, otherwise you wouldn’t be there.
When you end the conversation, ask for the name of the person you talked to and if it would be okay for you to follow up. It is critical that you remember the name of the person you spoke with. Ask how long you should wait to hear back on the application before following up. Adhere to the time frame you are given. If the HR person tells you two weeks, then wait two weeks. Remember these details! If you have not heard back within the time mentioned, visit the office again. Ask to speak to the same person and address them by their first name. This communicates to the person that you have been in before and you are serious about the job. Remind them that you were asked to follow up in a certain amount of days and that was the reason for your visit. The pressure is now on the HR staff to take action on your application.
As the applicant, you have followed the rules of engagement and done what was asked of you. This puts a little friendly pressure on the HR person to move you through the interview process. They now know if they tell you to wait another two weeks before checking back, you will stay true to your commitment. The person also sees that you will not forget who they are. Persistence never hurt anyone and you will most likely be moved along the interview process. This creates a sense of obligation to the human resources rep to at least allow you to proceed to the interview. Key things to remember: complete the application correctly, remember the details of the discussion with the hr rep, sell yourself professionally, and be persistent but follow the instructions you were given. This should land you in the jump seat for an interview! My next blog will discuss how to prepare for an interview.