The HR Insider’s Guide to Applying Online for a Job

Work Wisdom

The HR Insider’s Guide to Applying Online for a Job

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 3 million people have voluntarily left their jobs every month since June 2017. That means there are a lot of job applications being submitted to organizations. And, as a candidate, you want to know your application is getting the attention it deserves.

Especially when it comes to applying online.

Sometimes, it can feel like your resume is being sent to a black hole, never to be heard from again. But there are a few things you can do when applying online to help your resume stand out. First, it’s important to understand there are two different ways of applying online:

  1. Using a social media network (like LinkedIn)
  2. Using the company’s website

Make keywords work for you
Both of them involve keywords, so let’s start there. According to the website, keywords are the words and phrases that searchers (in this case, recruiters) use to find the information they’re looking for. When you apply for a job online, your information — along with everyone else who has applied — goes into a “system.” Recruiters search that system using the requirements for the job. If your resume mentions the same knowledge, skills and abilities as the job posting, that creates a match and your information will show up in the recruiter’s search.

Ruchi Kaushik, director of talent acquisition and diversity for Unum, says candidates need to learn keywords as a part of their job search.

“Candidates should tweak their resume for each job they apply to,” Kaushik says. “It’s a competitive job market, and each job posting can average 100-200 applications per job. These applications are being screened by artificial intelligence technology or directly by recruiters and are being scanned for keywords and skills aligned with the job. If your skills or qualifications don’t stand out, your application might get overlooked. In addition, resume customization demonstrates interest in the opportunity, rather than a generic resume blast.”

The goal of using keywords here isn’t to game the system: It’s about being smart with the words you choose. It’s important to understand how keywords work, what the keywords are for your profession and industry, and how to use them strategically on your resume. If you’re unsure about the keywords for your job, do an online search for your job description.

Applying for jobs using social media
Many employers post jobs on professional networks like LinkedIn and accept LinkedIn profiles instead of resumes. Fortune magazine reports more than 10 million jobs are posted on LinkedIn. If you plan to apply for jobs via social media, you’ll want to have a current profile. Check out this post from Peter Economy on how to “Build your personal brand with 5 LinkedIn habits.”

Before applying for a position, check out the jobs section a few times and do a few practice searches. Look at how positions are written and shared. Pay attention to details such as location and requirements. Start small and get used to the system, then feel free to apply for more.

Applying for jobs using the company’s website
Chances are, if you apply for a position directly on a company’s website, it’s using an applicant tracking system: a software program that allows organizations to easily store and organize recruiting information. Instead of viewing this system as the “black hole,” think of it as a good thing. If you apply using the right keywords, you could qualify for a position you’ve never even considered (or knew existed!).

Similar to applying with your social media profile, your resume needs to be current. (Check out this article on how to “Prepare for opportunities by keeping your resume up-to-date.”) In addition, make sure your resume contains relevant keywords. Focus on skills and accomplishments. Use numbers to quantify your results wherever possible.

An increasing number of employers are using technology in the recruiting process. This helps them be consistent and fill positions faster. Understanding how to use keywords and apply for positions online and through social media will help ensure your qualifications are picked up in searches by recruiters. Then, just get ready to dazzle a hiring manager in an interview.

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