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You have searched the job market and found a company that you want to apply to. Now comes the daunting task of doing an online job application. Painful! There is no other way to describe the process for submitting online job applications. However, here are several helpful shortcuts that can make this process more effective and less frustrating.
Data Fields: Create and store on your hard-drive a plain Word/text document with all of the information that is typically required in applications. This includes: chronology of employment (company name, dates of employment, position title, job description, accomplishments, supervisor’s name and contact information, salary, reason for leaving); education (institution, city, state, area of concentration, years of attendance, graduation date, degree attained,); and, references (name, address, email, phone). As you work through the online applications, you can often “cut and paste” whole sections from this plain text document to the online forms. This not only saves time but improves the accuracy and consistency of the information that you submit to multiple prospective employers.

Resume: Create a plain Word/text resume. Eliminate any special formatting. If you are given the opportunity to upload your resume, use this one. Most of the online tools strip out all of the formatting. Go back and review the resume online and add extra lines to make it easy to read.

Detailed Guidelines:
• Fill out the application as completely as required. Most online applications will not let you move forward if you have missed a “required field”.
• Remember that your online application must exactly/very closely match your resume(s) and LinkedIn. Employers look for inconsistency in your “story” – and you are telling your “life and work-life story” with your resume and application. Tell it well.
• On the field regarding “salary required,” leave blank if possible or fill in “negotiable”. If a dollar amount is required, fill in $1. The employer will know that you are open. Some online applications require you to pick from a salary range, do so based on your knowledge of the job market for which you are applying (not your last job or career). Do your homework using tools like and – you only get one chance at this field.
• Have a short but always truthful answer for “Reason left/leaving” former and current employer. Whether you authorize your former employers to release information or not, the savvy Recruiter/Hiring Manager will figure out why you did leave!
• If former job duties are asked for, do not put ‘see resume’. Go ahead and fill in a summary statement or copy and paste from your tailored resume. Make it easy on the application reviewer.
• Supplementary information, i.e. sex, race, veteran status. Most companies make this “optional” but not providing the information gives the impression that you are hiding something. All government contractors are required to ask these questions and you do NOT want to appear contrary.
• Many companies allow you to upload your resume and/or cover letter. Follow their instructions precisely and utilize their preview tool to ensure that you have had a successful upload!
• Having a diverse group of three to five individuals who are willing and able to give you excellent, relevant references, is an important part of the job search/job qualification process. Today, most employers do take the time to contact your references. However, recruiters and hiring managers expect those references you provided to give you an excellent endorsement. If they sense some reluctance or shading of the truth, it is a real red flag.

For a more detailed discussion go to the article by Paulette M. Risher. She is a retired Major General who works tirelessly with, her organization, Still Serving Veterans to assist veterans in all aspects of transitioning and civilian life.

Go to, click on the “Looking for People” tab, then view “Veterans Solutions”. To see more information for Veterans, please join our LinkedIn group, Veterans Hiring Solutions for Veterans at If you have specific questions, contact me at [email protected]