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Martin one of the Job Club members writes about the challenges of completing online applications

Martin one of our long standing Job Club members writes frankly about the issues of completing “online”  applications .

Being yourself in an (online) application form.

How many ‘Facebook’ friends do you have?

It sounds like a question a newly-found friend, or even a relative, might ask, doesn’t it?  Well, in a recent online job application, I was a bit surprised to find this question, having been looking for work and filling application forms in for quite some time but, to my recollection, I don’t remember being asked this before.  There were multiple choice answers, of which I selected ’50 – 200′ to cover my count of 103 but, what will the company make of my answer?:-

“He’s not got that many friends, so he might not fit in or mix in well”,

“He’s got quite a few friends, so he should be okay interacting with staff and customers”,

“He’s got quite a few friends and, obviously, he’s on Facebook, so he might start getting distracted and messing about on his phone or on our computers when he’s supposed to be working!”

One of the other options was ‘I am not on Facebook’ – what would they have thought about that?  Certainly, the first of the above answers, or they might be thankful because they might be about to employ a good worker who probably won’t be distracted too much.

Another question asked that I don’t recall seeing on an application form before was ‘How much television do you watch each weekday?’.  I answered ‘1 – 5 hours’ because my actual 1-and-a-half or 2 hours falls into this bracket – for all they know, I could be watching 5 hours per day and, therefore at least 15 hours per week more than I am, so this hasn’t actually told them much and I resent them thinking this when I’m doing unpaid voluntary work 4 days per week and spending at least 2 hours each night looking for paid employment.  This leads me to the ‘Previous Employment’ section of the form, where I included, or attempted to include, the said voluntary work, until I got to the ‘Salary’ box and they said I couldn’t put ‘0.00’ or ‘unpaid’, so I had to go back to the beginning and start again – just for being honest and trying to give a true, and good, impression of myself, in keeping with what I’ve been advised to write in my covering letters and on my CV, at The Work Club, too!


Amongst many other questions on this application form was one I had come across before:- ‘If a work colleague was behaving in a manner that was not acceptable to you, would you confront them directly or mention this to your (line) manager?’ – I chose the ‘confront them’ option, though this seems a strong word and, again, it would not give a true reflection of me.  I believe in giving someone a chance to explain themselves and letting them see that they can trust me not to go behind their back and create an unbearable atmosphere in the workplace – however, I would let them know that if there is a repeat of such an episode (if I still consider their behaviour unacceptable after an explanation), I will be going to my (line) manager – at least I would have been fair.  What would the manager think of me keeping quiet about it, though?  Another no-win situation, maybe.

On paper application forms, I have only come across the more interrogating questions a couple of times as employers probably wish to use as little paper as possible and save such questions for the interview stage but, it seems that the high increase in online applications is giving the employer a better platform to find out as much as possible about their prospective employees.  How much are they really finding out?  I’m not sure but, keep applying and answer the questions as you see fit.  Someone suggested to me, recently, that I should give the answers that they are looking for but, is that being yourself?



the best advice will be published in two weeks time.






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