How to perfect your online job application techniques, female working at her laptop.  with a dog sitting on her lap

How to perfect your online job application techniques

The job hunt is on! My eldest daughter has decided it is time that she found a new job. One that aligns with her aspirations and one that provides a little more freedom so she can try to get a balance between work and play. 

After a couple of weeks of stubbornly refusing help and insisting that she has it under control she finally came to me and asked what she was doing wrong, all she had to show for her efforts was a couple of rejections and a heap of non-responses.

Delighted with the opportunity to be a parent again, not just a taxi driver, I asked what methods she had been using so far.

This earned me a dramatic eye-roll and a deep, sympathetic sigh for my obvious ignorance to anything remotely modern or technical. Apparently, she had been doing what all of her friends do, applying for any job on the online job boards that looked remotely bearable.

Resisting the urge to mimic her dramatic eye-roll and sympathetic sigh I smiled sweetly and said, “hmm perhaps we just need to do something different, something that your friends are not doing”.

Thankfully, she decided she would indulge me for a while and agreed to try a different approach, so we set out to dominate the world of online job applications one question at a time.

Q. My job applications are not working, what am I doing wrong? 

There are 5 things you simply must do to be in with a chance of online application success. 

1. Read the job description thoroughly.

Don’t just check out the pay rate and the shift pattern then hit apply. Make sure you have taken the time to read the description and satisfy yourself that it really is a job you want to do and one that you are a good fit for. 

2. Create an original cover letter.

Your cover letter needs to be tailored to the type of job you are applying for. Make reference to the role and how you are a good fit for it in this letter. Mention experience, qualifications, skills, licenses. Keep it concise but do get the information in there.

3. Identify the keywords in the job description

These will be the important words that describe the person they are looking for. They may be describing words, industry specific words, job titles, licenses and anything in between. Make a note of them and add them into your CV.

4.Complete all fields on the online application form.

Don’t assume your CV has everything you need already detailed, still take the time to fill out any question boxes on the online application.

5. Do not apply for jobs on mass.

Using the same CV and cover letter combo for all jobs will not do you any good. Tailored well-written applications are better than 50 random applications. Go through these steps every time.

Q. What should I do after I have submitted an application?

Write the following information down in a handy little notebook,

  • The name of the company
  • The position you have applied for
  • The date you applied
  • The keywords and requirements you took from step 3.

This might seem a little ‘extra’, but it really is a good habit to get in to. You can bet your life that you will get a call from a prospective employer when you are out and then you will be struggling to remember who they are and what they do if you don’t have any notes. With your trusty little notebook you can simply flip to the page and use all of these lovely keywords and notes throughout your telephone conversation to make you seem super-organised and perfect for the role.

Q. Should I call them to follow-up on my application?

The general answer is yes, it would depend on the job and if there is a closing date for applications advertised on the job description, this might mean you have to wait a while before calling but it can’t do any harm so why not.

If you are applying to an agency, you can call straightaway and let them know your CV is there and do a quick telephone qualification session to speed-up the process. If you are not right for that role, they may have another that is perfect for you.

Q. I hate waiting for a call, what do I do while I am waiting?

While you are waiting keep looking at the vacancies but also do some work on your CV, cover letter and personal statement just in case you are not successful and need to do more applications. 

If you don’t get the job you wanted, don’t take it personally just dust yourself down and keep going, something will come up. 

Q. Why should I add the keywords to my CV?

Sometimes prospective employers will use an Application Tracking System (ATS) to sort through the hundreds of applications flooding in.

The ATS will scan your CV and see if it contains the keywords that have been set for the role, any CV’s that do not match will be rejected and any that contain the correct keywords will be sent to the next stage in the selection process. So, to be in with the very best chance of selection, make sure your CV is a good match to the job description.

Q. Should I use more than one job site?

Yes, just make sure you take the time to set your profiles up thoroughly and opt into new job alerts.

Q. How else can I find a job? Is there another way or is it all just online applications?

There are lots of ways, most of them may seem a little retro to you but they do still work.

Walk-in - try walking into the place you want to work and ask if they are hiring, if not leave your CV for them in case they decide to open a position later.

Print - Look in the newspaper, the free ads, newsagent bulletin boards, e-newsletters, some companies do still like to use print advertising so you might get lucky, especially if no-one else is looking here.

Cold call - a little bit like the walk-in but instead you create a list of companies that you would like to work for and you give them a call. Ask to speak with the Manager or HR team and see if they are taking on new staff.

Talk - Word of mouth is still alive and kicking, let people know you are in the market for a new job someone might know something you don’t.

Armed with her new knowledge she has really stepped up her job-hunting game. The second application resulted in a same day call back for an interview which just goes to show, taking your time and doing the job thoroughly really does bring results.

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