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5 Tips for Landing an Interview with an Online Job Application

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Today’s job search is almost entirely Internet-based. Whether you are looking for software engineering jobs available on linkedin or applying for a job on a job search board, it has become increasingly easier to apply for a job. You can apply for 20 jobs in the time it used to take to apply for 1 or 2 jobs. This is, of course, a double-edged sword and is the primary reason why most people feel that the “hit rate” (the actual number of interviews you get as compared to the number of job applications submitted) is very low. Any one job posting could have 100 (or 100’s of applications). And the longer the job has been posted, the higher the number of applications will already have been sent. There are several key factors that can help you focus your 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 (see 5 Steps to a great resume – versions).

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  • review job listings for your title/position and make a list of keywords used (incorporate these into your resume)
  • review resume samples for your industry for keywords
  • Visit trade industry sites for your field


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.

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  • Job search sites.
  • While it may seem like you are being productive in applying to many jobs via job boards, you need to understand how to maximize the time spent applying online.

“There are literally thousands of job sites on the web, but the best job boards and job search engine sites have search tools that are quick and easy to use and allow you to search based on the type of job you’re looking for, your location, and other criteria.” – Alison Doyle

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Are You Qualified?

No sense 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 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 10 Cover Letter Tips).

Whenever you apply for a job position through a job search board or company career site, you really should include a cover letter so that the hiring manager knows there is a match between your skill set, experience, and the job opportunity.

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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

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

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

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