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Look For Work

Applying for Work Online

Most employers accept online applications and resumés and many require you to apply online. You may be asked to email or upload your application, or use an online application form or resumé builder.

If you’re applying online, it’s important to follow the employer’s instructions carefully. Following the instructions

  • ensures that your application will be accepted and processed
  • demonstrates your attention to detail
  • shows that you know how to work online (This is requirement in many jobs.)

Prepare your material

Make sure your resumé and cover letter are up to date. Together, these documents make your application.

Learn how to create an effective resumé that highlights your qualifications.

Prepare your cover letter. Your cover letter should open the door to an interview.

Most career advisors recommend that you send a cover letter or email with a resumé. 

Format for online use

Format your resumé according to the employer’s instructions.  If you aren’t sure what file format to use, ask the employer.

In Alberta the standard practice is to send your resumé in one of these file formats:

  • Microsoft Word (.docx or .doc)
  • rich text format (.rtf)
  • portable document format (.pdf)
  • plain text (.txt) or ASCII

DOC, DOCX, RTF and PDF formats produce resumés that work as faxed or printed documents as well as online attachments.

TXT or ASCII formats can be read on all computer platforms, but they do not support special formatting such as bolding, italics, underlining or graphics. They are not the best choice for documents you will need to fax or print.

See a sample of an ASCII resumé (PDF).


Sending your resumé as a PDF file ensures that the formatting won’t be lost. Keep in mind, however, that the employer may not have up–to–date software to read your PDF.

Before sending a PDF file, check with the employer to make sure that this is an acceptable format.

Plain text

Some online applications require plain text (.txt) format.

You can create a plain text version of your resumé in most word processing programs. Just be sure to use standard fonts and avoid complicated formatting such as bolding, italics and graphics.

When you’re ready to save, click “Save As” and choose the plain text or text option.

Apply online

To apply online, you will need your own email address. Learn how to sign up for a free email account.

There are 3 ways to apply online.

  1. Email your cover letter and resumé.
  2. Upload your resumé to an employer’s website.
  3. Enter your information into an online application form or resumé builder.

1. Email your application

Always provide a cover letter and resumé when you email your application.

If the employer asks for a cover letter, you can usually prepare your cover letter and resumé as a single document, with the cover letter as the first page:

  • Make sure the document is in the format required by the employer.
  • Check that your page numbering is correct. The cover letter should not be a numbered page. Resumé pages should be numbered.
  • Attach the document to your email.

If the employer doesn’t ask for a cover letter, your email can function as the cover letter. 

  • Don’t use the HTML (HyperText Markup Language) option when writing your cover email. It’s not compatible with all email programs and the employer may not be able to read your email. Instead, send your email as plain text or ASCII, which can be read by all email programs.

Follow these steps when you email your application:

  • Include the competition or job posting number and your name in the subject line of your email. 
  • Ask the employer to confirm that they received and can open the attached application.
  • Follow up with the employer if you do not receive a confirmation email.

2. Upload your application to an employer’s website

On some employer and job search websites, you can upload your resumé and cover letter directly from your computer to the website. Instructions on the website should tell you what format to use. If not, ask.

If you have the choice of upload your resumé or use an online application form or resumé builder, the better option is to upload. Your resumé can present your qualifications most effectively.

3. Enter your information into an online application form or resumé builder

If the employer requires applicants to complete an online form or use a resumé builder, you may have two options.

You may be able to copy and paste directly from a Word version or plain text version of your resumé into the required online form.

  • Review the pasted text carefully to make sure it fits into the boxes, is spaced appropriately and maintains correct formatting.

If you can’t copy and paste from your resumé, you will need to retype your information into the online form. Be careful. You will not be able to correct your application once you’ve submitted it. Follow these suggestions: 

  • Take your time.
  • Refer to your resumé as you type into the form.
  • Tailor your resumé to fit the requirements of the form.
  • Be sure to enter the correct information into the correct box or text field.
  • Check spelling, grammar and spacing before submitting the form. If possible, have someone proofread again once you've done your review.

Be confident when you apply for work online

Showing that you know how to apply online assures potential employers that you’re able to function in an online environment. Online skills are now required in most workplaces.

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