Careers LIFESTYLE  >  Career Series #3: Surviving the Online Job Application Process

Career Series #3: Surviving the Online Job Application Process

Career Series #3: Surviving the Online Job Application Process
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

illustration by Sarah Stevens


More and more, candidates for employment are required to apply online. Here are the tips and tricks to get that first interview.

It seems so easy. You can apply online through either a jobsite or a career site or a company’s website. Yet for so many of us, the results are disappointing. We get no acknowledgement of our application, no response, nothing, nothing, nothing. How many of us apply to 10 to 12 jobs a day and hear nothing back let alone an invitation for an interview? There’s a reason.

Online applications are filtered by computer algorithms.

What does that mean? It means that a computer code is filtering something called “keywords” in your resume and cover-letter. If you don’t have the proper keywords in your cover letter and resume you won’t be considered. And the consideration is significant. Hundreds if not thousands of people apply for positions online. You have to stand-out and it’s not about what you’ve done, but how you describe it.

Keywords 101

A human being is not looking at your online application. A mindless computer code is evaluating your relevance and potential with an algorithm that is based on keywords, key phrases, and other obscure search criteria like “phrase match:” and “exact match.”

And what that code is looking for is “keywords.” Keywords are a direct connection to certain words or phrases in a job description. If the job description says, “We are looking for someone with international expertise,” and your resume says, “extensive global market experience.” You might think you’re a perfect match for the job.

Unfortunately your word choice is not an “exact match” for the keywords in the job description. As a result, you will not be perceived as a match for the job based on this qualification because of simple semantics. “International expertise” will connect you to the position across numerous keywords and phrases. “Global market experience” will connect to nothing and be ignored regardless of the subjective similarity.

Study and analyze the words in the job description

Every job online has a job description attached. Print it. Study it. And look for the keywords and key phrases. This could mean that you rewrite your resume. Do it. You should also save it specific to the job, but you may find an interesting evolution takes place.

Evolve your resume

As you continue to apply for positions you’ll see that your descriptions are inconsistent with the more common descriptions used by Human Resource managers across industries. If that’s the case, keep those keyword and key-phrase changes in your resume. HR or Human Resource people speak a certain language and you need to speak their language as well if you want them to recognize you and listen to you.

Never apply online without a cover letter

Most every online application gives you the option of attaching a cover letter. Do it. 35% of hiring managers will not consider a resume without a cover letter, and that assumes you’ve survived the keyword filtering process. On that note, never use a boiler-plate cover letter. It should be tailored to the company, the opportunity and why you’re right for the job. It should also be loaded with keywords based on the job description.

Attach additional evidence if invited.

Many online applications will invite you to attach additional information such as a portfolio, case-histories or a bio. Do this whenever possible. There are many other applicants and you want to make the best case for yourself that you can.  There is typically a mega-bit limit and you should attach your best example first. Quite often no one will look at this, but if you don’t have any attachments for a type of job that requires this addition you might not be taken seriously.

Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up.

If contacted follow-up immediately and strive to politely and professionally stay on their radar screen.  And keep a record. It’s easy to apply online. Too easy. Do everything you can to keep track of what you said, what you sent, and when so that you’re equipped to accurately and promptly reply to an inquiry or interest.

With any luck, your intelligent and keyworded inquiries will get you to that first conversation that leads to a new job.





Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...