Job Applications: Dealing with Online Application Headaches

Lesson 4: Dealing with Online Application Headaches


Dealing with online application headaches

person applying online

These days, online job applications are becoming much more common than their paper alternative. They're great for employers, allowing them to store and sort through incoming applications more efficiently.

However, they can pose a number of frustrations for job applicants. There's no face-to-face communication with online job applications, and job seekers might encounter any number of technical hiccups or errors while trying to complete them. In this lesson, we'll go over some common inconveniences of online applications, along with some ways of handling them.

Watch the video below to learn some tips for completing online applications.

Lengthier applications

Online applications tend to have more questions and sections than their paper counterparts. Some feature additional questionnaires or surveys with as many as 200 questions.

In order to complete these a bit more quickly, it's a good idea to have some of your personal information ready. We recommend having a plain-text version of your resume to reference or copy and paste from. The more prepared you are, the faster you'll be able to fill it out.

You may also want to check and see if the application offers the ability to save your progress. If you're becoming frustrated with the length of the application or you're pressed for time, you can save your progress and come back to finish it later.


Some applications use a feature called a timeout. Timeouts cause your current application session to expire after you've been inactive for a certain amount of time. In some cases, they may only give you a limited amount of time to complete a page. Companies generally use these as a way of protecting your sensitive information while also reducing data usage and traffic on their site.

The downside to them is that you can lose all of your information if the webpage times out. Because of this, it's generally a good idea to find a block of time when you'll be able to concentrate and complete the application without interruption.

If the application is timed it can also add a level of stress, giving you the feeling that you have to beat the clock. As mentioned in the previous section, it can help to copy and paste information from a resume or utilize a Save function if available to avoid losing your progress.

Interface and navigation issues

When filling out a variety of online applications, it's rare to find two that are the same. Most of them are organized and programmed differently, some more polished than others. You may find some of them to be finicky and unreliable, experiencing errors or unexpected behaviors while filling them out.

One common issue is when you click your browser's Back button and, rather than going back one page, it sends you back to the beginning of the application, erasing everything you've done so far. Many applications tend to have their own Back button, and it is usually a good idea to use this one instead when attempting to return to the previous page.

Another example is having to enter your information in a very particular way in order for the application to advance to the next page. If you do enter information incorrectly and try to move on, you may have to complete the page again. It's best to double-check each page before moving on to the next to prevent these types of things from happening.

Resume reader errors

Many applications these days feature a resume reader that lets you upload your resume so it can then extract information and automatically complete portions of the application.

While it's a great tool in theory, it can be prone to reading errors. Because it's entirely automated, it may confuse parts of your resume when filling out the application. For example, it might switch the company name with the job title when transferring them over. Be sure to double-check your application when using a resume reader to make sure everything is correct and in the right place.