Want to know how to deflate your ego in a hurry? Fill out an online job application and then wait by your email inbox for a response. And wait. And wait.
According to a recent Forbes Magazine interview with three career coaches, if you get two responses for every 100 online applications, you’re doing better than most.
A Portland talent we talked to had this to say about her job search, “I applied for maybe 30 jobs online. The applications take forever. I swear I get an error message at the completion of half of them, and you know what I’ve heard back when I finished? Crickets. Nothing. Nada. And I tell you what, I feel like a total loser.”
This from a woman who was an MVP at her old company.
Don’t lose hope! Since we value both your time and sanity, we had our experts Christie Barkan and Katie Silver put together these 12 helpful tips to help you get through online applications with your ego intact.
1. ONLY APPLY TO JOBS THAT YOU REALLY WANT
Choose quality over quantity. Be sure to concentrate only on those organizations you truly want to work for and who have also open jobs that match your skillset and goals. Don’t try the “shotgun approach.” If you apply to 16 jobs at the same company, the people who receive your applications aren’t going to take you seriously.
2. FOCUS ON YOUR WORK
Follow all of the directions in the online application and check it for errors. This is one of the few times you won’t have a friend to check your work (which we always recommend for resumes and portfolios). Christie, who goes through hundreds of applications a week said it’s incredibly obvious when applicants are doing things very quickly, which influences her judgment about them as a candidate. By being careful and thorough in your responses, you let the recruiter or hiring manager know that this is a job you are interested and can share why you think you are a fit.
3. INCLUDE THE COVER LETTER, BUT...!
Sometimes you’ll be asked for a cover letter. Remember that the company is hiring a resource to help solve a problem. Read the job description, do your research, and try to determine what they need you to do. In your cover letter, consider giving an example of how you helped another organization solve a similar problem. And don’t forget to keep it short. They have time to read a cover letter, not the Great American Novel.
4. INCLUDE LINKS TO SOCIAL MEDIA (AND YOUR PORTFOLIO)
Many recruiters actually prefer to look at LinkedIn profiles rather than resumes, because they’re all laid out in much the same way. That allows them to access the information they need quickly. And it should go without saying, if you work in the digital/visual arts, you need to include the link to your profile (and have one that represents you well).
5. USE A FORM SAVER
Say goodbye to error messages after you click “submit”. Use an extension like Lazarus, which securely auto-saves all the forms you fill out. It’s not a perfect program, but it may save you a heck of a lot of time filling a form twice. Or three times.
6. USE KEYWORDS
Speaking of finding information quickly, much like search engines, recruiters often scan for keywords. You’ll want to do some “résumé SEO” by choosing words for your resume or application that align with the job description.
7. KEEP TRACK WHERE YOU’VE APPLIED
It’s easy to get turned around when you’ve applied to many companies, so it’s a good idea to keep tabs. That way when the hiring manager calls you up for an interview, you won’t be caught saying, “Who? For what company??” No one wants to hear they were one of a thousand companies you applied for - and EVERYONE wants to hear that you personally selected their company and opportunity because it’s so awesome!
8. FOLLOW UP ON LINKEDIN
After you’ve finished applying, go to LinkedIn to see if you’re connected to anyone from that company. If you are, great! Just send a quick hello and let them know you applied. Reiterate your interest in the company and if possible, find something in common or compliment (sincerely!) their experience. Remember, you aren’t asking for a job or to be introduced to the hiring manager, which is crossing the line. Oh, and don’t forget to follow the company on LinkedIn, it’s a good way to find out where they’re headed and find interesting points to ask about when it’s time for an interview.
9. KEEP NETWORKING OFFLINE
Keep connecting through your personal network, whether that’s online, through Meetups, etc. You might just find out about an open position at a company you didn’t know was hiring. Plus, talking to the people who actually work at that company can tell you loads about its culture and the way it does business.
10. BE HONEST
It should go without saying, but if you stretch the truth, it’s only going to hurt your reputation - and your chances of finding work. (See this Ladders post about the hazards of lying on your resume.)
11. DON’T GIVE UP
Looking for a job can be lonely and frustrating. Try to stay confident, look to your friends and family for support and always ask for help when you need it. Remember, the right job is absolutely out there, and if you work hard at it, you will get work!