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The Riley Guide

The Riley Guide: How to Job Search

Using Employment Kiosks and
Online Job Applications

A growing number of employers are using self-service kiosks to screen potential employees, and to make more efficient use of their human-resources staff. Kiosks also offer some advantages to employers, including consistency of presentation (all applications have to follow the exact same format), automation of the sorting and screening processes for a large number of applicants, and also the opportunity to pre-sort applicants through the use of various assessments. But with a little insider knowledge of how this screening process works, you can also take some steps to ensure that your time applying via kiosks isn't wasted. Read on to find out how.

About Employment Kiosks

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The following three simple tips can help make sure your application is processed and seen by the employer as soon as possible. First off, make sure you have enough time to complete the application in a single sitting. Working through the applications at some kiosks can take 20 to 30 minutes - and even longer if the company wants you to complete some kind of skills assessment. Abandoning the kiosk in the middle of the application process will often result in your work being deleted from the system - or, even worse, in your personal information being seen by the next person who happens along.

That leads to the second tip: Come prepared. Many kiosk applications will ask for details about your employment history, including dates of employment and possibly even contact info for your previous employers - so bring along your resume or a detailed work history, as well as contact info for a few professional references. The time you'll spend gathering these things is time well spent - better to take a day to collect it all than to waste your time with an application you find you can't fully complete.

Three simple tips can help make sure your application is processed and seen by the employer as soon as possible...

The third tip is to be sure you're familiar with touch-screen computers and online applications. These days, many people are - but if you're not, that's no cause for alarm. Just drop by your local State Employment Service Office or public library and ask about classes related to electronic job applications. Many of these places offer free computer classes, some of which may be targeted at electronic job applications. The Helpful Links section at the bottom of this article includes a link to a free software program you can use to practice filling out a kiosk application - and the staff at your library or Employment Service Office can likely point you to even more practice resources.

Using a Hiring Kiosk

Hiring kiosks - which process millions of applications ever year - are designed to be pretty self-explanatory and user-friendly. Some simply consist of desks with computers attached, while others are free-standing, and look a bit like bank ATMs. As long as you've come prepared (as outlined in the previous section of this article), the kiosk's software should guide you through the entire process step-by-step - and some stores even have employees on hand to assist you if you have questions along the way.

If you don't hear back from the company within a week or so, ask to speak to the person who handles hiring decisions...

Once you've submitted your application via a kiosk, several things can happen. One likely result - from a statistical perspective, at least - is that you won't hear anything back. Companies that hire via kiosks tend to screen large numbers of applicants, which means they can be choosy about their replies. And unlike a traditional resume submission, a kiosk isn't likely to give you the contact info of a specific hiring manager with whom you can follow up. However, if you don't hear back from the company within a week or so, it's entirely reasonable to come back in person and ask to speak to the person who handles hiring decisions. He or she may not have had time to look over your application yet - or some specific reason may have prevented you from being considered. Either way, you'll gain valuable information by investigating for yourself.

Sample and Practice Job Applications

A variety of websites provide examples of kiosk-style job applications, which you can use for practice or preparation. These examples include online forms you can try filling out, printable applications you can review, and even this practice kiosk program. Although a lot of these online application samples seem similar, some do ask slightly different questions, or ask for the information to be presented differently - so you'll be doing yourself a favor by choosing two or more and filling them out for practice. And once you've completed an application in a way you like, you can carry a printout of it with you when you head off to fill out real kiosk applications.

Carry a printout of your sample application with you when you head off to fill out real kiosk applications....

CareerKokua.com is a great resource for sample forms - the site offers both online and printable samples. Job-Applications.com provides a library of hundreds of real job applications - kiosk-style and otherwise - which you can use to sharpen your application-filling skills. The Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) includes a sample job application on their website. But the closest thing to a real kiosk application is the simulated kiosk provided by the National Institute of Corrections Offender Workforce Development Division, linked in the "Helpful links" section just below. Once you've practiced with a couple of these examples, filling out real-world kiosk applications will be a breeze for you.

Helpful links

KioskMarketplace.com -- A site with loads of general info on which companies are using hiring kiosks, how they're using them, and why.

Applying for a Job at a Hiring Kiosk -- A list of quick and handy pointers for using application kiosks.

Simulated Online / Kiosk Job Application -- An online practice kiosk provided by the National Institute of Corrections Offender Workforce Development Division.