While most job seekers spend a lot of time using online job sites, few people actually use them effectively. When you consider that employers receive thousands of applications for every position that they post on the sites, it becomes clear that you need to take a strategic approach in order to make sure that your application is even seen by the employer. Here are some tips that will make your online applications rise to the top:
Make use of keywords. It is best to approach this systematically. Make a list of the keywords that are used in the job advertisement and ensure that those exact terms are included in your resume and cover letter. If you aren't using the correct keywords in your application, you will be screened out before a human even sees your profile.
Work within the system. You may think that you're smart, but the system is smarter. The system knows if you're trying to cheat it. Don't try tricks like copying and pasting their job description into your resume, applying to the employer directly instead of applying through the system, or any other sneaky plan that you come up with. If the system detects that you are playing games, you will be flagged, and while you're flagged, it's unlikely that any employer on the site will consider you.
Follow the employer's directions. It is best to submit your application however the employer requests it. If the employer has an online system in place, then they probably don't want you to e-mail the application. Often applications that are received outside of the official channels will not even be considered.
Proofread your application. It's simple; if your application has errors, you probably won't get an interview. The employer will either think that you don't care enough to proofread, or that you don't know better, neither of which is ideal.
Use job alerts. The job alerts function identifies positions that you may not have seen. Also, since you are notified soon after the position is posted, it allows you to apply for the position quickly, which can be an advantage when the employer has a short timeline for hiring.
Use several job sites. Although you may have a favourite, don't limit yourself to one job site. Different employers choose different sites, so by using a variety of sites, you are casting a wider net. Keep in mind that it can be expensive for employers to advertise their positions, so they may only be posting on one site.
While these strategies will help to improve your success when using online job sites, remember that you will still face a lot of competition. Online job sites should only be one part of your job search strategy. Don't forget to network and to find ways to access the hidden job market. If you are using a few different approaches to find a job, you will find a position much quicker.
(Photo from: Grant Cochrane/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net)