Online Application Tips for Target Jobs: Stand Out & Get Hired

The hunt for your dream job feels like searching for a needle in a haystack while wearing oven mitts, right? Sweaty palms hover over the ‘submit’ button, carrying the weight of your future on a single click.

This post guarantees to transform your online application from a shot in the dark to a spotlight on your talents.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Format your resume with a clean layout and ATS-friendly fonts to enhance readability for both systems and humans.
  • Personalize your cover letter and mirror the language from the job description to create a memorable application.
  • Leverage social media professionally by auditing your online presence and signaling your job search status through platforms like LinkedIn.

How Should I Format My Resume for Online Applications?

When you’re sprucing up your resume for online applications, remember: simplicity and readability are your best buddies. An ATS-friendly resume isn’t rocket science — it just needs to play by a few ground rules.

Here’s how to tick the right boxes:

  • Stick to a Clean Layout: Go for a straightforward resume template that’s free of fussy graphics. Not sure where to look? Google Docs and LinkedIn offer some neat, no-cost options.
  • Choose the Right Font: Fonts like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman aren’t just classics — they’re also ATS-friendly. Keep it between 10-12 points to make sure your resume is easy-peasy to read.
  • Use Standard Headings: Categories like “Work Experience,” “Education,” and “Skills” are the bread and butter for Applicant Tracking Systems. Creative headings might look snazzy, but they could confuse the algorithm.
  • Highlight with Bold and Italics: Want to draw attention to job titles or educational institutions? Feel free to use bold or italics, but don’t overdo it.

And here’s a golden nugget you won’t find just anywhere: Test the waters by running your resume through an online ATS simulator. Websites like Jobscan can give you a sneak peek into how an ATS reads your resume and even suggest ways to improve it!

What’s the Secret to a Standout Cover Letter?

Ah, the cover letter. It’s your time to shine, but where do you start? First off, scrap those generic templates; you’re telling your story, not someone else’s.

Here’s how to craft a cover letter that’ll stick like glue in a recruiter’s memory:

  • Personalize It: Use the hiring manager’s name, and show that you’ve done your homework about the company.
  • Start Strong: Kick off with a punchy opening line that sets the stage. Maybe it’s a brief anecdote or a bold statement about your passion.
  • Connect the Dots: Match your skills to the job description like peanut butter to jelly. Explain how experiences from your past jobs prepare you for this role.
  • Be Yourself: Let your personality peek through. Write as you’d speak in an interview — confident, but not over-the-top.

And here’s something you might not have thought about: Treat your cover letter like a trailer for the movie that is your professional life. Make them eager to dive into your resume and call you up for the premiere (also known as the interview).

Can Social Media Profiles Really Affect My Job Prospects?

In today’s world, you bet your bottom dollar they can! Think of your social media profiles as billboards on the digital highway where employers cruise by.

Here’s how you can ensure they reflect the professional you:

  • Audit Your Profiles: Do a sweep of your photos and posts. If you’d think twice about showing it to your grandma, it’s probably not employer-friendly.
  • Update Your LinkedIn: Treat it like an online resume. Highlight your achievements, volunteer work, and recommendations.
  • Align with Your Career Goals: Post content that shows your passion for your field. Share articles, join professional groups, and engage with industry leaders.

Quick tip: Ever heard of the “Open To Work” frame on LinkedIn? It’s a subtle yet clear signal to recruiters that you’re on the hunt. Plus, it’s a feature often overlooked that can expand your visibility.

Remember, your social media persona should echo the best version of your professional self. Make it count, and make it right.

So there you have it — a trio of tricks to nudge the odds in your favor for snagging that target job. Keep that resume tidy, make your cover letter a hit, and polish up that social media presence. With these tools in your arsenal, you’re set to make waves in the job-hunting ocean.

How Do I Tailor My Application for Each Job?

You’ve probably heard it countless times: Don’t send a one-size-fits-all application. But why exactly is tailoring your application so critical? Well, it’s simple, really—it shows the employer that you’re genuinely interested in the role and that you’ve got the chops to back up that interest with relevant skills and experience.

Here is a step-by-step guide to nailing the customization of your application:

  1. Dissect the Job Description: Unpack every requirement and qualification. This is your treasure map; each skill, quality or experience listed is a clue about what the employer is looking for.

  2. Match Your Skills and Experiences: For each point in the job description, write a corresponding note on how your background lines up. It’s a bit like doing a puzzle—find where your pieces fit.

  3. Speak Their Language: If the job post says “proficient in project management,” and you’ve successfully led a project, don’t just say you managed a team—say you’re “proficient in project management.” It’s about mirroring their terminology to underscore your suitability.

  4. Highlight Your Unique Selling Points: What makes you stand out? It’s not just about meeting the job criteria but going beyond them. This could be a specific project you spearheaded that had impressive results, or a less common skill set that’s highly valuable. If you speak a second language in a predominantly monolingual industry, that’s gold.

  5. Ground Your Claims with Evidence: It’s all well and good to claim you’ve got the goods, but you need to show it. Provide solid examples—quantify your achievements if possible. Increased sales by 20%? Cut costs by 30%? Those are eye-catching figures.

Finally, and here’s a tip that’s often overlooked – research the company culture. Companies don’t just want a candidate that can do the job, but one that will mesh with their team and ethos. Highlight aspects of your character and past work experience that align with the company’s values. For instance, if teamwork is a big deal to them, make sure you demonstrate how you’re a collaborative whiz.

What Are the Best Follow-up Strategies After Submitting an Application?

Patience may be a virtue, but in the job hunt, so is being proactive. Let’s talk about how to follow up tactfully after flinging your application into the great digital unknown.

  1. The Waiting Game: After submitting, give it some time—typically one to two weeks. This shows patience and respects the hiring process.

  2. Initiate Contact: Now’s the time to send a polite follow-up email. It can be short and sweet, but make sure it’s professional and reiterates your interest in the position.

  3. Stay Social Media Savvy: Find the hiring manager on LinkedIn and consider sending a brief message. But remember, there’s a fine line between showing initiative and being invasive. Don’t overdo it.

  4. Pick Up the Phone: If emails go unanswered, it’s okay to make a phone call. Just keep it brief and consider calling during off-peak hours to avoid being an inconvenience.

Remember, the key is to be remembered, and for all the right reasons. You want to be tenacious, not overbearing. And while you’re following up, don’t put all your eggs in one basket—keep applying to other positions.

One unique yet highly practical piece of advice: Look for any additional connections. If someone within your network works at the company or has contacts there, reach out to them. A personal referral could be what it takes to get your resume a second look. It’s not about what you know, but sometimes, it’s very much about who you know.

These strategies are gold—but they’ve got to be used wisely. Keep your follow-ups to a minimum. If the door doesn’t open after the second or third knock, it’s probably time to move along to the next opportunity. Always maintain your professionalism, positivity, and, most importantly, your dignity. After all, your approach in the follow-up could be just as important as the application itself.

In the end, job applications and follow-ups are as much about strategy as they are about showing off your skills. Both require a delicate touch and an awareness of professional cues. Stick with it, and remember, every application is a learning experience that brings you one step closer to that dream position. Keep at it, and best of luck!

  • Alex Mitch

    Hi, I'm the founder of! Having been in finance and tech for 10+ years, I was surprised at how hard it can be to find answers to common questions in finance, tech and business in general. Because of this, I decided to create this website to help others!