I hear the internet is on computers now.
November 20, 2009 5:24 AM   Subscribe

When completing an online job application that gives you the opportunity to attach a cover letter and resume at the end, is it necessary to fill out all of the fields if the resume contains the information?

I'm applying for a professional position in the administration of a local college. The online application is designed to be applicable to every possible position and most of the fields (employment and education history, skills, etc.) are not noted as mandatory. Is it necessary to essentially retype my resume into their system when the information is attached?

The main reason I ask if it's necessary is that the online application asks for information such as education starting with high school and office equipment skills. Does someone with a Master's many years into a professional career need to tell them where he went to high school and that he can use a computer and copier? Would it annoy hiring managers if I don't fill this information in?
posted by otters walk among us to Work & Money (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Well, it wouldn't annoy them if you included it. One thing to keep in mind is that the data you enter might feed into their employee database if they hire you, so if you don't include it they'll have to retype everything.
posted by delmoi at 5:28 AM on November 20, 2009


Sorry, it annoys the heck out of me when people don't fill it in. Where I work, we see the online form before we see the attachments, and if the online form doesn't look good, we don't even bother to go any further. It looks like you don't have any previous job experience or didn't go to high school at all.


I get dozens and dozens of online applications. Why would I bother with the incomplete ones when I have others that are filled in?
posted by Violet Hour at 5:52 AM on November 20, 2009


Why not call the HR department at the college to ask? They should be able to give you a better idea of whether or not you need to fill in all of the extra fields that might not be relevant for your position.
posted by sabira at 5:52 AM on November 20, 2009


I would say it is definitely needed, as whoever is reviewing the application may look at the contents of the online form first . If you haven't filled out the necessary blocks on the form they may not bother opening your attachments and hunting through the resume to get the needed information.

It may also be one way they confirm that information entered in the online form matches what is in your resume.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 5:55 AM on November 20, 2009


Also, even if all of your work history is included on your resume, from a hiring perspective, I would imagine that it might save the managers a lot of time to be able to view each candidate's work history in the exact same format. Everyone formats their resume differently, but after that information has been put into the system, hiring managers don't have to look all over the page to figure out where a candidate decided to list their dates of employment or technical skills.
posted by sabira at 5:56 AM on November 20, 2009


Cut and paste it in. Why take the chance?
posted by bunny hugger at 5:56 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm also in the business of this job search process, and I've been filling it in.

I don't think that the employers realize that by having a "convenient" online application form, it actually takes about 15 minutes longer than it would to just stuff an envelope.

I agree with most of what's being said here though, just fill it in. They're looking for a reason to throw your application materials away, don't give them one. An incomplete online component would be a great reason to toss your stuff in the trash.
posted by King Bee at 6:01 AM on November 20, 2009


I applied for a number of university jobs last year before landing one. Most of the applications were just like the one you describe, and I figured out that you really have to do both. Some of the stuff you can just cut and paste, it's tedious because it's little bits and pieces like job descriptions.

I hope you get a great job! I did.
posted by mareli at 6:04 AM on November 20, 2009


Thank you everyone, you are all, of course, correct. I was laid off on Wednesday and am still a little stunned, so I'm not fully into job search mindset yet. Clearly, I didn't think it through enough. Being asked my office equipment skills right after the section where I list all of the tax and accounting software I know how to use just struck me as silly.
posted by otters walk among us at 6:10 AM on November 20, 2009


I always fill out the forms even though I it makes me crazy.

It's my understanding that SOME employers will keep you "on file" and can search through applications based on keywords. They even give you the option to chose how long you'd like to stay active in their database. If you don't get this job (which I hope you will), your info is still on file. If another position comes along that you're qualified for, they could find you based on you filling out that terribly boring form and contact you for an interview.

Anyway, I've only seen this a few times, one was for a huge research based museum.

Also - this saves HR the time and energy of entering your basic info into their system, etc.
posted by babydino at 6:11 AM on November 20, 2009


The job application process often consists of jumping through a bunch of ridiculous and arbitrary hoops. Most jobs also involve some of that kind of thing. I don't think this is a coincidence.
posted by box at 6:19 AM on November 20, 2009


most of the fields (employment and education history, skills, etc.) are not noted as mandatory

Does someone with a Master's many years into a professional career need to tell them where he went to high school and that he can use a computer and copier?

Being asked my office equipment skills right after the section where I list all of the tax and accounting software I know how to use just struck me as silly.


It seems like you're trying to rationalize why you shouldn't need to fill out a complete job application. None of the above points make sense as reasons to leave spaces blank.

For instance, "most of the fields ... are not noted as mandatory" -- huh? Why would they be? If there are spaces for "employment" and "education," those are a pretty big deal and would look bizarre if they were left blank.

Even if an application form has a line for something you consider unimportant, like where you went to high school, there's no issue. Whether or not that's how you would have liked the form to be structured, that's how they structured theirs, so you simply must write down where you went to high school. (Also, it's not clearly irrelevant: it's at least a quick way for them to get a sense of your geographical roots.)

Even if there's information that truly doesn't apply to you, you should fill it in if at all possible, even if you have to write "none" or "N/A." That way, you know there's no chance they'll say, "Oh, looks like he forgot that one." Do you want them to think you're the kind of person who's not that great at completing tasks? Nope.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:38 AM on November 20, 2009


The job application process often consists of jumping through a bunch of ridiculous and arbitrary hoops. Most jobs also involve some of that kind of thing. I don't think this is a coincidence.

Yeah, I had one student applicant call my hiring process 'retarded' because I requested email inquiries only. He didn't like using email, you see, which made me wonder why he was applying for a position whose description clearly stated that email was a big part of the job. I told him that sometimes you have to jump through the hoops if you want the job, to which he replied that the hoops were retarded, at which time I pointed out he would never work in this library.

So always jump through the hoops. You never know which one is the vetting hoop. In the student's case, he failed to jump through the "don't be a dingus" hoop.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:08 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jaltcoh, you are absolutely right. Part of my reaction stems from having always worked at very small companies and finding recent jobs through contacts and referrals. The smack in the face of "oh yeah, big organizations do things a lot differently" was an important reminder.
posted by otters walk among us at 7:17 AM on November 20, 2009


It's my understanding that SOME employers will keep you "on file" and can search through applications based on keywords.

This.

I work for the Fed Govt in Canada and I know that they use a type of software to find their preferred keywords in the fields of a standardised application - and if they don't find it, you're eliminated from the selection process, simple as that.
posted by urbanlenny at 8:25 AM on November 20, 2009


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