Pick Me, Pick Me! How to Score an Interview from an Online Job ApplicationCareers Plus Resumes
As a job seeker, it’s kind of hard to stand out when you have to fill out a standard job application online, just like everyone else. These programs tend to use a format that successfully makes every candidate appear boring and indistinguishable. I hate that. If you’re stuck in a rut and need help digging your way out of these dull but necessary situations, consider these six tips. Incorporating even just one or two of them into your resume and cover letter will definitely make you stand out, and in a good way:
Tip 1: The Cover Letter
If the application allows you to submit a cover letter, take advantage of the opportunity to let your creative side show. Don’t use a standard cover letter; tailor it to each specific job. For example, if you’re applying for a job as an instructor for a school that grants computer and IT degrees online, explain how the experience and skills you have equips you with the knowledge you need to fill that specific role.
Tip 2: Keyword Customization
Read and reread the job description before filling out your application. Identify keywords and incorporate them into your answers. For example, if the job requires leadership qualities, share an experience about what you learned when you were supervising others in a different position. If the potential employer seeks someone with computer skills, include that you took a course in MS Office. Knowing the job description is the key to being noticed. The more words your resume has in common with the job description the better. But, always be truthful. It doesn’t help to sound like the perfect candidate if you’re not really who you say you are.
Tip 3: Grammar Counts
Carefully review your cover letter and resume for grammar and spelling errors. Use free software, such as Ginger and After the Deadline, to double check your work.
Tip 4: Keep it Concise
Answer open-ended questions in a clear and concise way. Don’t lose readers with long sentences or stories that may bore or confuse them.
Tip 5: Have Your References Ready
Many applications require references of people who know you and can answer questions about your work ethic, personality and habits. For recent graduates with no job experience, use teachers and volunteer positions for reference points. Always check with a person you want to use as a reference to make sure he or she is OK with you mentioning his or her name. Keep a reference list in your email so you have easy access to their contact information when needed.
Tip 6: Leave No Blanks
Many companies use programs that filter job applications before selecting only a few to actually be read by the HR department. Because of this, your answers should mimic keywords found in the job description. Also, don’t leave any questions blank. You don’t want to be disqualified because a machine thought you didn’t answer all of the questions.