No-Tears Guide to Online Applications

online job applicationsOnline job applications are a huge pain in the you-know-what. They’re insanely long and just when you think you’ve finished, you’re led to an “assessment” that will take an “estimated 30-40 minutes.” The worst part is, most retail chains have almost exclusively online applications now. You can talk to the manager at the store, but all he or she will tell you is, “I won’t see your application unless it gets through the system.” Even if they wanted to hire you, their hands are tied. What this says about decision-making and responsibility in corporate culture is another story….for another day. But today, I’m just going to help you get through these applications so you can get that coveted cashier position at Staples.


1. Be honest. No, seriously, don’t try to guess what answers they are looking for, because you can’t.

2. Often these assessments will have multiple choice answers along the lines of, “sometimes”, “always”, and “never.” Don’t answer the middle one too many times – it will make you seem like you’re not paying attention and your application may get tossed before a human ever lays eyes on it.

3. Don’t take too long to answer the questions or change your answers too much (see #1). It will seem like you’re either slow or you’re trying to influence the results. If you do need to stop and come back, most applications will allow you to save and close it without penalizing you. (Don’t just walk away).

4. Check your internet connection and environment before you start the application. You don’t want to lose the whole thing due to faulty connectivity, or show less than your best because you’re distracted.

5. If the application gives you the option to attach a cover letter and resume, do it! But make sure they are well-formatted, clear and concise, and free of errors.

Questions? Any other tips?

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