A reader writes:
Many jobs require an online application in addition to a resume. I’m struggling to understand the difference, if there is any, in the type of information being solicited, especially in the Experience section. For example, online applications often ask for the duties associated with each former position. Do they actually want a list of the duties performed–essentially, the job description–or, as with a resume, is this a place to include accomplishments?
Should I just copy and paste from my resume, or are hiring managers looking for different information in the application portion? I don’t want to be redundant and miss the opportunity to provide additional information regarding my qualifications. On the other hand, I don’t want to waste time developing unique content that won’t be reviewed as such. What do you suggest?
It’s fine to copy and paste from your resume, and to have the bullet points you use on the application be the same as the ones from your resume.
The reason some employers ask for a separate application is to ensure that they receive all of the information they want (whereas on your resume, it’s up to you what you include), because they often want it in certain formats, and because they often include requirements that you sign off about the accuracy of the information.
But yeah, it’s often a waste of candidates’ time, particularly for professional positions where a resume should suffice. And I’d note that many, many employers hire without using formal application forms, and they survive just fine.
Relatedly: Years back, I was hired for a job without submitting a formal application, because the CEO already knew me and my work. On my second day there, the HR manager brought me a multi-page job application and told me I had to fill it out, complete with references who would never be called, “because we need this in everyone’s file.” It was a ridiculous display of commitment to bureaucracy without thought given to the purpose (which was later backed up by what I got to know about her work style) … which I mention in order to point out that while there’s a time and a place for asking for official application forms to be filled out, employers that use them sometimes need to do a better job of thinking through how they interact with the rest of the hiring process.