job applicant on laptop filling out online job application

Online applications

Understanding online application forms

Many employers require applicants to complete an online form to apply for work. Learn how to answer application questions and submit a polished online job application.

An online application is common in graduate and internship recruitment, the government sector, universities and non-government organisations.

What could the application involve?

Requirements will vary depending on the industry and employer. Read the instructions carefully before you start your application so you know how to prepare. Information commonly requested may include:

  • basic data, such as name and contact details
  • residency, citizenship or visa status
  • the department and/or role to which you are applying
  • statements addressing selection criteria or answers to questions
  • details about work experience, education and extracurricular activities
  • standard supporting documents such as a resume, cover letter and/or academic transcript
  • industry-/role-specific supporting documents, for example, a Working with Children Check (education, social work, psychology), immunisation record (healthcare, laboratories, vet science), portfolio or work samples (creative industries), or police check (various industries)
  • professional registration or accreditation details (eg, NESA number for school teaching roles)
  • referee details
  • references or recommendations
  • availability.

Online application tips

  • Research the organisation, the role, and your own skills and strengths.
  • Start your application before the closing date to give yourself plenty of time to complete it.
  • Leave your first draft for a day then come back and review it with fresh eyes. Ask someone else to review it as well.
  • Check whether you can save changes and return to your application or if you must complete it in one session.
  • Check if there is a word limit and ensure you keep to it.
  • Make a note of any login details so you can retrieve your application.
  • Write your statements/answers in Microsoft Word first and check for spelling and grammatical errors. Be cautious when cutting and pasting text from Word into the online form (make sure you’re pasting the right information in the right place).
  • Address all selection criteria and questions. Do not leave any text boxes blank or your application could be marked incomplete. If the question does not apply to you, write ‘N/A’ so the recruiter can see you have read the question.
  • Draw on different work and life experiences to provide examples when addressing selection criteria or questions.
  • Keep a copy of your application, as you may be asked questions about your answers during an interview.