Sure, applying for jobs online seems like it should be easy. After all, you can submit your application with the click of a button. But if it's easy for you to apply, it's easy for hundreds or even thousands of others to apply as well. If you want to get noticed, you need fill out applications and submit resumes and cover letters in a way that won't eliminate you early on.
Some online jobs require you to fill out an application first. These generic forms can ask you anything, from your educational background to salary history. But you don't need to answer every question.
According to Forbes, there are a number of questions you should leave blank or fill in a generic answer.
- Salary: Leave it blank or put in an obviously fake salary (like $1).
- Information about your current job: "Please see resume." This saves you time. There's no need to fill in information you're already supplying. If it's a job that wants you to fill out an application in lieu of a resume, copy and paste from your resume to avoid spelling and grammar mistakes.
- References: "Available upon mutual interest." Odds are they won't need references until the end of the hiring process. You don't need tell your references to expect a call until after you've had an interview.
Hiring managers shouldn't expect you to discuss these questions before an interview. And since putting in the wrong answer could eliminate you before they even look at your resume, it's best to avoid answering until further along in the hiring process.
Speaking of resumes, make sure you customize yours. Search the job description for keywords and make sure you include them in your resume and cover letter. This shows that you are really interested in the company and aren't just submitting your resume to every job you find. And because many companies have software that scans resumes and cover letters for keywords, it helps to ensure you don't get screened out before a human looks at your information.
Even after applying for jobs online, it's still a good idea to find an inside connection. Utilize social media tools and face-to-face networking to see if anyone you know has a contact in the company and follow up with them.
Applying for jobs online is convenient. You can do it from the comfort of your home, in your pajamas, with the click of a button. But just because you can apply to jobs instantly doesn't mean you always should. To increase your chances at getting that face-to-face interview, you need to take your time. Find the right match, document information and customize your resume and cover letter to submit a thoughtful application that will get you in front of the hiring manager.