Sooner or later, most people will have to apply for a job online. The number of employers who utilize the online application method to find the best people continues to grow. Some people feel that the online application process limits their ability to showcase particular skills and stand apart from the competition. It really does not have to be that way. Here are some suggestions on how to use the electronic application process in an effective manner. 1. Do not be hesitant about providing your ethnicity, as information about it usually goes into a database that tracks sources of diversity, not directly to the recruiters. 2. It is okay to omit providing your year of college graduation, if you believe it would be used to eliminate you for age reasons. 3. Regarding your Social Security number, according to the Wall Street Journal, companies usually ask for it in order to do background checks when and if they are seriously considering you. Requesting them at the application stage is threatening to your privacy. They suggest that you leave it blank, if the system allows, or fill it in with a made-up number. You must, however, let the company know in your cover letter, that you supplied a false number because you are concerned about your privacy and that you will be happy to provide the real number later on in the process. The Wall Street Journal reports that a poll of attendees at a seminar for company HR and staffing professionals revealed that none of them had any objection to candidates supplying fictitious Social Security numbers on electronic job applications. 4. Including remarks in the comments section may be a way in which you can stand apart and show that you have done your homework and that you have researched and know something about the company. 5. Modify your information to tailor it to the specific position you seek. Don’t use generic information. Include statistics/numbers if you have them. For example: Processed 150 orders an hour; handled more than $10,000 each 8-hour shift; managed crew of ten agents at 3 locations, etc. 6. Use words and phrases from the ad, key words, industry terminology and buzz words. Employers who use online application methods search key words. 7. Be certain to complete all fields. You might even include ones that are not required. The only exceptions might be as stated above, the ones that require your Social Security number and date of college application. 8. If you are asked to attach your resume or paste it into the application, make sure it can make the transition via a very simple format. Fancy text, italics, bold and bullets do not convert ideally in an electronic application. Because a growing number of employers scan paper resumes into online systems, even if you are not required to apply online, your information may end up in the same place as if you had applied online. Therefore, keep your format as simple as possible, whether or not you are applying online. 9. If it allows, perform spell/grammar check of your application before you submit it. Make sure to submit a perfect, error-free application because the employer is judging you from the get-go.