Who enjoys writing job applications? Don’t worry, neither do we. You and thousands of others are all hunting for work and all want to impress your new employer. And let’s face it, there’s a very fine distinction between writing a detailed description that makes you stand out and writing an excessive amount of personal facts that get deleted and never seen again.
To help make sure you’re not one of the latter applications, we asked Marina, our very own head of onboarding and HR, to help us define exactly what stands out in a great online application. And there are some differences between applying for an online job and a traditional job that you might not expect…
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Marina, based in Novi Sad, Serbia, and I’m the head of onboarding and HR at Microwork.
What’s the most important thing you look out for when people send you an online application?
For me, any application must be personalised. If you’ve only taken the time to write a boring, impersonal introduction, then it shows to me that you’re not interested enough in the job. The best application is when you’ve taken some time to explain who you are, yet you’ve done it in a concise, interesting way.
A typical, good quality email might look something like this:
I’d like to apply for the role of tagging pictures and videos which I saw on your website. I’m very interested in the position so below is a brief presentation of me.
Currently I’m unemployed and will be until the end of November, however I’m currently working through UpWork as a translator from English into Slovene for their language mutation websites.
Before that I worked with Optimata (Ljubljana) for several years. My position was as Integrations Curator which included the conceptual reconciliation of new resources with existing ones, data-scraping and data-entry. I also provided customer support for Blogbase which included communicating with customers through their personalised software.
I maintain and run the social network accounts of two intergenerational centers, I’m very computer literate, I do a lot of photography and editing and I teach retirees how to use computers and smartphones as a volunteer.
I speak Slovenian, English and Serbo / Croatian.
Leisure activities: photography, gardening and I love hiking..
For additional information I am available on this email address and also you can find me at Upwork.com.
All the very best,
What are some of the worst mistakes you see in people’s online applications?
As I already mentioned, some people send very short, impersonal emails, and other times people do the opposite and send huge essays and share far too much information. The key is balance. Throughout your entire application you should keep the employer in mind. Everyone wants to ‘sell themselves’ and ‘stand out from the rest’, so you have to think about highlighting the relevant reasons the employer should choose you over anybody else.
When writing a huge essay, you may have expressed a lot about yourself, but you haven’t kept the employer in mind. The person in charge of recruitment will have hundreds of these emails to go through and hasn’t got the time to read a long personal email.
Make it easy for them by including a concise, personal email which includes a few pieces of relevant information about yourself (not your entire life story!).
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Is there any major difference in making an application for an online job compared to more typical jobs?
Actually, yes. Whenever you consider hiring a new employee, it’s vital that they are an effective communicator. In a face-to-face interview this will include things like eye-contact, confidence and openness, but this is also very important to consider online too.
When working online, most contact with your employer will be through written text (such as emails or internal chat groups) or perhaps over webcam. Since a significant amount of your conversation will happen as written text, it’s important that you are friendly, approachable and easy to communicate with. This is why we place so much importance on how people communicate with us in their initial email and the email exchange that usually follows afterwards.
Any dos and don’ts for CV-writing?
Your CV should be short and relevant. Best to keep it to one page or a maximum of two. Don’t forget, your future employer doesn’t need to know everything about you. People often panic, particularly if they doubt their eligibility for the job, and they list all the pieces of experience that they’ve ever had. The skilled CV writer crafts their CV with the company in mind and highlights just the most relevant experience and achievements.
You must list your most recent experience first! Some people choose to write their CV in chronological order, and they’ll be very lucky if the recruiter even reads as far down as their current work. Please never do your CV in chronological order.
One of the best CVs I saw recently was personalised for us. They concisely described themselves and their achievements and had a section at the bottom that they called “why me?” Here she made a list of the reasons why she was suitable for the specific job she was applying for. It doesn’t need to take you long to look through the job advert and highlight the specific experiences/reasons that you think you are suitable for it.
What advice would you give to anybody who’s interested in finding work online?
First of all, do your research! There are many different kinds of online work available. Do you want to be a freelancer? Or do you want to work for a company remotely? What type of company do you want to work for?
I would recommend that everyone spends time thinking exactly what kind of work they want by doing lots of research first.
Something else to consider is what’s actually involved in the ‘work from home’ lifestyle. Socialising is very different when communicating with your team online compared to having daily meetings in your job. When you’re working online, and particularly as a freelancer, you’ve got to think about how many effective working hours you can work daily. In a traditional job you might have an eight hour work day, but perhaps four or five of those hours are really truly effective work.
As a freelancer or somebody who works online, you essentially only get paid for your effective hours.
“You need to take into account that there’s a difference between an eight hour work day and an eight hour effective work day.”
My biggest advice is to simply be systematic and start actually applying. After you’ve taken some time to understand exactly what you’re looking for, start planning the next steps. Is there anything you need to learn? Are there skills you need to develop first? Start taking these actions.
The most important thing we’re looking for as recruiters is somebody who is passionate and invested in what they do. Somebody who’s already taking action to make themselves better and learn the skills they need to thrive in the world of online work.
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