Applying For Jobs Online? You Might Be Wasting Your Time

10 tips for getting your online resume noticed

Posted Sep 17, 2018

Whether you're actively or passively looking for a new job, there are a few sobering job search statistics you must know: 

"On average, each corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes. Of these candidates, four to six will be called for an interview and only one will be offered the job." (Source: Glassdoor.com)

"While applying to jobs may make you feel productive...only 15 percent of positions were filled through job boards. Most jobs are either filled internally or through referrals." (Source: USnews.com)

"At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs are not published...And yet most people — they are spending 70 or 80 percent of their time surfing the net versus getting out there" (Source: NPR.org)

Pair those statistics with Indeed.com's traffic. Indeed claims to be the #1 job search site, reaching 200 million monthly users globally and hosting 100 million resumes. (Source: Indeed.com) Plus, there are all those other job sites like CareerBuilder, Monster, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, CraigsList and the plethora of industry-specific sites. That's an incredible amount of competition. So how can a job seeker possibly figure out how to win a game that seems stacked against him?

I've already given away the answer. Networking and referrals. Cue the groans from my fellow introverts. But wait! Thanks to social media, networking no longer has to mean walking career fair aisles with sweat-smeared resumes or showing up at cocktail mixers to perform the dance I call the Business Card Shuffle. Don't let the statistics get you down, many people are landing their jobs online. But it's not enough to click 'submit' and then wait for the phone to ring.

10 Tips For Winning The Online Application Game

1. First, conduct a Google search for "How to get a job at Company X". That might sound overly simple, but most people don't do it. You might find helpful insider tips from current or former employees. If you happen to be interested in working for the aforementioned and highly desirable Google, for instance, there are many YouTube videos from employees describing the hiring process from initial application to final interview.

2. Conduct a LinkedIn investigation to determine who makes hiring and recruiting decisions at the company you're targeting. If you can find an internal recruiter's profile, send him or her a direct message mentioning that you submitted your resume online and would like to hop on a phone call to discuss. If you can't find a recruiter, look for a department head or executive and do the same. Readers would be surprised at the number of my clients who have landed interviews simply by going to the top and asking for them.

3. Another LinkedIn approach is to connect with current or former employees in the same department or similar job function that you're targeting. Ask if they would share with you the best person to contact regarding hiring or if they have any tips for getting your resume noticed. You could start the conversation by asking them more general questions about what it's like working for the company, keeping your messages concise and expressing enthusiasm for the position.

4. Yet another LinkedIn suggestion is to visit the target company's profile and click on the link that reads, "X # of people from your school were hired here". Do some sleuthing of employees who attended your alma mater and look for commonalities that can serve as icebreakers. Sometimes a simple connection like that can lead to someone hand-delivering your resume to just the right person. In a similar vein, you can contact your school's alumni association and ask if they happen to know of any association members who are employed by the company. Do they have an alumni directory/yearbook?

5. Consider calling the company's HR department and ask them their preferred method for applying and if it would be okay to follow up with them after you apply online. Also, ask if you can be transferred to a recruiter to make a brief introduction.

6. Start asking people in your extended network if they can introduce you to anybody who works for the company you're targeting. Then ask those folks if they have any suggestions for getting your resume noticed. According to Six Degrees of Separation (not Kevin Bacon), someone will know someone who knows someone who works there.

7. Do some exploration of placement agencies/headhunters/recruiters in the city where the employer is located. The agency might have developed a close working relationship with the employer. If you are having trouble getting hired via online applications, perhaps you can get placed. 

8. Does anybody in your network happen to be a recruiter or HR expert? Pick their brain for an insider's perspective on the best way to get an online application noticed. 

9. Peruse the company's social media feeds to see if that's where they're publishing fresh job openings. They might be tweeting their preferred link for applying. You can even connect with them on social media and send them a direct message after you apply to thank them for advertising the position, letting them know you just applied, and that you're excited to set up a call. Ask if there's a way you can follow up on your application. This approach can send the message that you're a big enough fan of the company to follow them on social media, you are tech and social media savvy, and that you're an enthusiastic and proactive applicant.

10. Make a list of all your friends, family, and close acquaintances who have landed a new job in the past few years. Did they submit a cold application online and wait for the phone to ring or did they engage in networking? The vast majority of my clients report that they either leveraged a connection or they proactively engaged with the company after applying online. Reach out to your people to hear those real-world stories of how they won the game.