Stop right there! Read these tips before you submit your online application. The first item to address (and you probably already know), using online applications as your key job search strategy is not a good idea. While it’s the easiest and most convenient way to submit your résumé, it’s also the least effective. You have a very small chance of landing the job this way. I’m not saying you shouldn’t apply to jobs online – just don’t use it as your only strategy. 

Instead, you may consider networking with key people in your target field to uncover job opportunities. I know that is a struggle right now with COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders.

In the meantime, if you’re going to apply to jobs online, there are some things you must do to boost your chances of getting your résumé seen and (hopefully) selected for the interview.


I have seen so many applicants apply for positions that are way out of their league. More than likely, they did not read the entire posting. Before you spend time submitting your résumé and cover letter online into the ATS, you must first read it thoroughly from start to finish. I mean, read EVERYTHING. And then re-read it.

How interested are you really?

If you got a job offer would you take it? If the location is too far a commute that could be a deal breaker right there. I recommend you find out where the location of the job is and then decide if it’s acceptable before you apply.

How qualified are you really?

If you’re missing something important, you should come up with a strategy about how to address that in your résumé, cover letter, and in an interview.

How much time are you really committed to invest?

Does the employer specify what’s involved in the recruitment process? Is there a test and/or assignment?

If so, are you prepared to spend what could be hours of your time do these assignments?

The fact is more and more companies are expecting candidates to jump through all kinds of hoops even before there’s a phone interview!

Don’t miss key information!

If you don’t read the job description carefully, you could miss a key directive. Some employers will purposely bury specific instructions in the content to determine if you actually read the entire posting. If you miss providing the requested information (e.g. 200 word essay), you would likely be automatically disqualified.


One way to stack the odds in your favor is to apply to jobs that are newly posted. New means anything that’s been advertised for less than a few days. The general idea is this – the newer the job posting, the better your chances. Since most job postings get on average over 250 applicants, one way to increase your chances of getting your résumé seen by the hiring authority is to get your résumé in their system sooner than later. If you wait too long to apply, the company has already identified more than enough candidates and may already be interviewing.


Recruiters and hiring managers generally do read cover letters. In fact, they will oftentimes request them in the job posting or at the very least, expect a cover letter.

Don’t miss sending a cover letter, but you must create one that addresses the key requirements of the job posting, includes keywords/phrases, uses an interesting “hook”, and highlights your unique value proposition. Sending a compelling and well-written cover letter can greatly increase your résumé’s chances of getting the right kind of attention.


If you’re sending the same résumé to different jobs even if they are the same or similar, you are significantly reducing your chances of generating interviews. The more your résumé addresses they key job requirements, the more likely the ATS will give it a higher score and ranking so that it ends up at the top of the pile and not at the bottom.

Be sure to include all of the important qualifications and qualities that the employer is looking for in the appropriate sections. It also means you need to include specific and quantifiable accomplishments where possible. This information will help to distinguish you from the pack and give you a competitive advantage.


Even though you’ve uploaded your résumé, cover letter, and possibly other supporting documentation, that’s often not enough. Many employers will require you to complete a detailed online application which provides the same information that you already submitted. Resist the urge to skip this part. In most cases, you won’t be able to move forward with the online process until you’ve provided all of the required information but there might be some systems that will let you do that.

You’ll have to do some editing

When you upload your résumé, some systems will populate the application automatically but in 99.9% of the cases, it’s missing information, or the information is in the wrong spot, or it’s screwed up the way the content is formatted in the work experience section, or something else.

Failure to complete all of the sections and make the necessary corrections (grammar, spelling) and adjustments could send your résumé to the bottom of the pile or kick it out of the system entirely.

Fill in the boxes!

The general rule of thumb is to not leave any box empty unless you absolutely have no choice. For instance, if the employer is looking for a degree and you have that degree, just be sure to include all of the details they want, like the dates, type of degree, name of the institution, etc.