Is the process of applying for jobs online really much different to filling out an application on paper?

Employers are increasingly moving their recruitment online, making use of sophisticated software programs to manage job applications more quickly, cheaply and reliably than they ever could in the pre-digital world. Applying online has, by and large, made life easier for candidates too. For instance: you can apply for jobs at any time of the day or night, on all sorts of devices, and from anywhere; step-by-step processes can make it impossible to submit applications half-finished; and automated response programs reduce the time you wait before hearing whether you have been invited for interview or not.  

But before this brave new world of efficiency and convenience lulls you into a false sense of complacency, bear in mind that completing an online application form requires just as much – if not more – time, effort and attention as writing a paper application. Just because it’s online does not mean you can use the casual style of language you might use in an email or on social media. The medium may have changed, but there is still a real person at the other end reading what you have written.

And just like you’d prepare rough and best versions of your paper application, if you’re applying for a job online, save a version of the application form (or copy the questions) to your computer and work on it offline first, even if you are offered the option of storing your draft on the site where you're applying. This lets you spell-check your work, ensures you have a back-up if there’s a problem with the form or your connection goes down at an inconvenient moment, and saves you having to worry about inadvertently hitting ‘submit’ on a half-finished application.