Applying for jobs online

Using the Internet to find vacancies and apply for jobs


The Internet has replaced newspapers and trade journals as the major source of advertised vacancies, and nowadays they carry a lot less job adverts than they used to. Indeed, the newspaper or the journal will usually refer you to an online job board, where many more vacancies are listed. An example is Thursday’s Yorkshire Post, which has just a page or two of job ads and refers you to the Jobstoday website.

    •  Universal Jobmatch
       A large database of vacancies. As with other online job boards, to benefit from the full 
       range of features offered by UJ, you will need to register, create an account and 'upload'  
       your CV. To do so you must already have an email account (see below). When you register
       you must make a careful note of your User ID and Password as you will need it to log in to
       UJ on subsequent occasions. 
    •  indeed      
       An example of a job ad ‘aggregator’ which collects job ads from as many job boards as
       possible and presents them on one site, so that you don’t have to search the job boards
    •  Simply Hired
       Another example of a job ad aggregator. 
    •  adzuna
       A comprehensive job ad aggregator.
    •  CV-Library
    •  Jobsite
    •  Monster
    •  My Leeds Jobs   
    •  Leeds City Council Jobs (please use the button on the right)     
       Find jobs with the City Council and local schools.
    •  Leeds Jobcentre Plus tweets a selection of local job vacancies. 
    •  Apprenticeship and Job Opportunities around Leeds (use the button on the right)
       A selection of local job opportunities.
    •  EURES - European Job Mobility Portal
       Find information on jobs and learning opportunities throughout Europe. Includes job
       vacancies in 32 European countries.​
Job boards will allow you search for vacancies within a certain distance of a town or postcode and / or by specific job sectors.
It’s important that you have regular access to the Internet so that you are able to check them often and don’t miss an opportunity. If you don’t have access to the Internet at home, you can use a computer at your nearest public library. Alternatively, you may have friends or relatives who are happy to let you use their computers.
In order to get the best out of online job boards and to apply for any of the vacancies you find, you will need to register with them and upload (attach) your CV to your account.
First of all, if you don’t already have one you will need to set up an email account. Type ‘free email’ into a search engine such as and look through the results. Outlook, Yahoo Mail, and Gmail are among the most popular. Follow their instructions to set up your account.
You’ll have to think up a unique email address.  Because you’ll be using your email address to communicate with companies, don’t make up a joky address but instead use your name. If someone else has already selected this address, you will need to try some variations of your name to find one that is available. For example, if joe.bloggs is taken, try joe_bloggs or combine your name with a relevant date or number, e.g. joe_bloggs2014  For a strong password use a combination of letters, numbers and even characters. But bear in mind that you need to be able to remember it or have it noted down somewhere in case you forget it!
Top tip: make a note of websites, User IDs and Passwords! When you open your email account and each time you register with a job site or the job section of a company’s website, you will end up with another website address, User ID and Password to remember. If you forget them, a lot of time will be wasted next time you need to use the site. It’s a good idea to carefully write all of these details down in a small notebook and, once you’ve learned how to use your email account, also put them in an email which you send to yourself. This is all part of being organized when job searching!
Once you’ve sorted out your Internet access and email account, you will then be able to register with some of the job boards and upload (attach) your CV to your account(s).
To upload your CV you you will need to have your CV ready in ‘electronic format’ rather than just in printed form. It will have to be typed using a computer, then saved as an electronic document (known as a ‘file’) on your own computer, on a portable ‘memory stick’ and / or saved in your email account, by logging in to your account and attaching it to an email which you then send to yourself.
If you get an adviser or a friend to help you with your CV, always make sure that they save it in one or other of these ways rather than just printing it out. Otherwise you may have to get it typed all over again when you want to upload it to a job board, email it to an employer, update it or modify it to suit the particular position you are applying for
(If you have difficulty understanding computers, the Internet, email and uploading and attaching documents, etc., Leeds Library and Information Service runs a programme of learning sessions to help you get to grips with them.)
When you have registered with a job board, completed your ‘profile’ to describe your skills, and uploaded your CV, you can then begin to use it to search for vacancies.
Job boards will allow you search for vacancies within a certain distance of a town or postcode and / or by specific job sectors.
Once you have found a position that interests you and matches your skills and experience, you will often be able, with a click of the ‘Apply’ button, to automatically send your CV to the company, organisation, or recruitment agency which is advertising the vacancy. You will probably also be given the opportunity to include the equivalent of a covering letter or personal statement (see below).
Sometimes an advert will, instead, display an email address to which you must email your CV (along with a covering message), or a telephone number, with which to contact the employer.
Sometimes, clicking the ‘Apply’ button will take you to the website of the company, organisation or recruitment agency which is advertising the vacancy and you will then need to register with their website and complete their online application process. You will still need the information which your CV contains, and you may also be asked to upload your CV at some point during the process.
Here’s a list of the information you will need to have ready in order to create a personal profile and complete the online application process, just as you would when writing a CV (although application forms tend to ask for more information than is usually included in a CV):
   •  Contact details - address, telephone number(s), email address.
   •  Education - names of schools / colleges attended and the dates you started and left,
      subjects studied, exam results with dates, qualifications gained. 
   •  Details of any other training you have done - who provided the training, what the courses
      covered, any tests taken, certificates awarded, etc. 
   •  Names and full postal addresses of current and / or previous employers or work
      experience placements and the starting and finishing dates of your employment, as well as
      reason(s) for leaving. You will probably also need their phone numbers and your managers’
   •  Your job titles, details of your roles, key responsibilities and the skills you gained.
The job description and the research you have done on the company to which you are applying will help you to identify the specific skills, experience and qualities that the employer is looking for. Emphasise that you possess those particular attributes by giving examples of how and when you have demonstrated them.
To keep your examples focused, try the STAR approach, as you would in an interview. First, describe the Situation that you were in and the Tasks that you needed to undertake. Set the scene, say what needed to be done, and why. Then describe the Actions you took – explain why you made certain decisions, what you did and the skills you used. Finally, what were the Results? How were they measured? How did you improve the situation? In what ways did you help the company or organisation? What did you learn? What would you do differently next time?
What we’ve said in the section on CVs about using ‘action words’ to start sentences and being consistent in the use of tenses, also applies when completing application forms. However, while it is better to use the third person when writing a CV, it is usual to use the first person, i.e. I and My, when completing application forms:
   •  My experience of ..... proved useful when .....
   •  I was responsible for ..... when .....
   •  I was involved with .....
   •  I supported ..... during .....
   •  A sound knowledge of ..... was demonstrated by my .....
   •  I work well as a member of a team because I am able to.....
   •  In my previous/current job/role I most enjoy(ed) the .....
   •  I am able to plan my workload, for instance, when .....
   •  I can work to tight deadlines, for example, when .....
   •  I have used my knowledge of ..... to develop .....
You will also need contact details of two people who will give you good references. Check with them first! (It is usual for application forms to include such information, whereas in a CV you would put 'References available on request'.)
There will also be several employment eligibility questions, such as:
   •  Can you demonstrate that you are eligible to work in the UK
   •  Can you work for a minimum of 16 hours a week?
   •  Are you available to work late nights and early mornings?
   •  Are you available to work weekends?
   •  Do you have any unspent criminal convictions?
Application forms come in many shapes and sizes, depending on the employer and the type of job for which you are applying, and will include a variety of questions or requests for differing amounts of information.
Many retailers’ websites, for example, will ask you to answer 'killer questions’ as part of the application process. These give you a choice of answers and are designed to find out how you would deal with customers and colleagues in a number of hypothetical situations. You may also be asked questions which test your numeracy and problem solving skills. Only if you get above a certain score will you be allowed to continue with the application. So take your time and think carefully before you opt for a particular answer!
On many application forms you will have to complete a section at the end called ‘additional information’ or ‘personal statement’. This is similar to providing a covering letter / email when sending your CV. After you’ve filled in the sections on personal details, employment history, and qualifications, this large, empty box can be very daunting, but it is your chance to really impress a potential employer and get yourself the all-important interview. (The National Careers Service website includes a very helpful page on Personal statements.)
You should be able to ‘copy and paste’ relevant sentences from a previous covering letter or email as a starting point, although you will probably have to do some rearranging (or ‘reformatting’) of the text so that it looks right. Make sure you read through what you have pasted and adapt it to the form you are currently filling in.
If possible, it’s always a good idea to first type up what you want to put into the various sections of an online form using a word processor and then, when you are happy with it, ‘copy and paste’ the text from your document into the online form. This way you can avoid mistakes and can keep a copy of what you’ve sent so that you can adapt it for future applications and use it to prepare for an interview. This is important as some completed online forms are difficult or impossible to print out.
Don’t be surprised if an online application takes a couple of hours and a lot of concentration to complete. Give yourself plenty of time, particularly if the form doesn’t have a ‘save and come back later’ facility, as you will have to complete it in one go. Make sure that all sections of the form are completed fully and that you avoid silly mistakes, such as spelling errors or inaccurate dates. Usually the process won’t allow you to proceed to the next section in the online form unless you respond in some way to each question, so, if any question does not apply to you, put Not Applicable (or N/A). This also shows them that you haven’t forgotten to fill in any of the sections.
Finally, when you have completed all the sections and checked everything as much as possible you can hit the ‘Apply’ button!
You will probably be emailed automatically to indicate that they have received your application.
Remember - if your application is successful and the company or organisation wants you to attend an interview, or be available for an initial telephone interview, they will probably choose to let you know by email, so make sure you check your email account every day, otherwise you might miss an invitation to an interview!