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Land the Interview: 5 Pro Tips for Online Job Applications

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Today’s job search is predominantly conducted online. Whether you’re eyeing software engineering positions on LinkedIn or exploring opportunities on job boards, the ease of application has significantly increased. You can now apply for 20 jobs in the time it once took to apply for just one or two. However, this convenience is a double-edged sword. It’s a major reason many job seekers experience a low “hit rate”—the ratio of interviews landed to applications submitted. A single job posting can attract hundreds of applications, especially if it has been posted for an extended period. To stand out in this competitive landscape, focusing on several key factors can make a substantial difference in your job search.

Keywords are key (no pun intended)

So many applications, and so little time. Many recruiters and companies use software to help them focus on the best matching applications. You should ensure that your resume and cover letter (see below) have keywords that closely match the job description. This may require that you have multiple versions of your resume.

  • Identify Industry-Specific Keywords: Start by identifying the jargon or terminology commonly used in your industry. These keywords often appear in job descriptions and are crucial for tailoring your resume and cover letters.
  • Use Keywords in Your Resume: Incorporate the identified keywords strategically throughout your resume, especially in the skills and experience sections. This enhances the chances of your resume passing through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
  • Apply Keywords in LinkedIn Profile: Make sure your LinkedIn profile is keyword-rich, particularly in the summary, skills, and experience sections. This increases your visibility when employers search for potential candidates.
  • Search for Jobs Using Keywords: Use these keywords when searching for job openings on job boards or company websites. This helps in finding the most relevant positions that align with your skills and experience.
  • Analyze Job Descriptions: Carefully read job descriptions to find additional keywords you may have missed. This will not only help you in customizing your application but also prepare you for interviews.

Job Search Boards

There are tons of job search boards and you don’t need to be on all of them. Focus on a few and spend the rest of your time on the other “three legs of job search” (see The Four Legs of Job Search).  Many jobs are posted on multiple job search boards (so less is more in this case). Also, as mentioned earlier, the older a job posting the more likely that many (probably too many) applications have already been submitted. While this does not mean that it’s a waste of time to submit your application, you should focus on job postings from the last few days. If you’ve “run out” of more current postings, then submitting to older postings is certainly worth considering.

Are You Qualified?

No sense in applying for a job online if you are not qualified.  Don’t be sucked into “I can do that”, stick to what you know and can do based on your experience.

  • Read the job description – and compare it to your experience
  • Don’t worry if you are a few years shy of the number of years of experience required. However, if you are 10 years short of the required experience, you probably shouldn’t waste your time applying
  • How do your skills compare to the requirements? Look for at least a 60% to 75% match as a criterion for applying
  • Accomplishments are a huge factor – if you’ve already done what they are looking for the candidate to do – this is a very good match – apply.

Cover Letters

May seem “old school” to you, but cover letters are still very important to your job search, especially when applying online (see Cover Letter Tips).

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  • Make each cover letter original – This is a perfect example of where cutting corners does not work in your favor. Spend time on personalizing the cover letter for each application.
  • Mentioning the title of the job and briefly indicate why you are the perfect candidate
  • Add something specific to the job description so that the reader will know that you are qualified for the job
  • Try to address the cover letter to the hiring manager if you can find out their name

Answer All of the Questions (correctly)

An incomplete application with grammatical errors will not get you an interview. Complete the app in the same way you would participate in an interview. The online job app is not a formality, it is one of the key components in deciding if you get an interview.

  • Answer all of the questions completely
  • To the extent possible, use the same keywords you used in your resume and cover letter
  • If you reuse information used in other applications, ensure it is “cleansed” of information related to other applications
  • Check for spelling and grammatical errors
A Top Recruiting Director's Guide to Writing the Perfect Resume for Every Job

An insider shows how to tailor a résumé that sets applicants apart from a sea of candidates. Recruiting director Brad Karsh has worked with thousands of misguided job seekers. Now he?s putting his experience into print, with step-by-step guidelines to improve the wording, content, and format of any résumé.

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04/20/2024 07:21 pm GMT

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