STUTTGART: Applying for a job used to be expensive what with the costs of printing CVs, buying special binders and then the costs of posting it. The first step into professional life quickly proved expensive and time-consuming.

Nowadays, the Internet has made the process simpler. Job applicants can scan job openings quickly and efficiently online and contact potential employers by e-mail. Nonetheless, online applications have their own risks for people just starting their career.

“Especially when it comes to entry level positions, companies receive a lot of applications that can be sorted through fairly quickly by computer,” said Christian Puettjer, a career advisor in Bredenbek in northern Germany.

Additionally, contacting potential employers by filling in an online form at a career centre is catching on.

The ‘classic’ method of applying online for a job involves sending an e-mail. Many companies offer standardised forms on their websites.

Katja Vennemann of the personnel department at Robert Bosch GmbH in Stuttgart says the advantage of this is, “I can quickly direct completed applications to the right department.”

More creative individuals might be able to draw more attention to themselves by simply sending a link to their personal website. But Puettjer advises against this. “Personnel chiefs don’t like that because it means they have to track down the relevant information.”

It’s a different story with information technology companies. Personal websites are often viewed favourably in that industry, says Ilona Mirtschin of the Federal Agency for Labour in Nuremberg.

If a company does not say in the advertisement or on its website what information it requires,

then the applicant should ring up to find out exactly what is required.

Even in online applications, it’s very important to keep up social conventions. If an applicant does not have experience writing a CV, you should take the time to learn that.

“There are hundreds of books on the market that will give

a first-time job seeker the

information they need,” says Vennemann.

There are also technical traps into which applicants might blunder. One of those is the size of attachments. “The upper limit is about two megabytes. Otherwise slower computers can’t open them,” explains Mirtschin. Vennemann advises using a PDF format and to use the same format for all attachments.

Applicants should take time filling out online forms, advises Puettjer.

“Online applications often tempt job seekers to fill them out quickly.” But applicants who want to stand out from the crowd need to give precise answers to open-ended questions. Additionally, mistakes crop up when forms are filled out too quickly.

Also abbreviations and e-mail addresses along the lines of should be avoided altogether.

“That implies you aren’t serious,” said Puettjer, adding that anyone who has taken the time to fill out an application should also take the time to create an e-mail address composed of their first and last names.