Applying through an online job board like LinkedIn or Indeed is one of the easiest ways to land a job, but it can be intimidating to know that there are likely hundreds of candidates applying for the same position. Because so many people have access to these websites, the pool of candidates is much larger, and therefore, much more competitive. In addition to that, many online job applications are read by machines, rather than sorted through by a hiring manager. It can be hard to stand out as a candidate when applying for a job online, but there are a few things you can do to make sure your application is noticed. 

Use words on your resume that match the job description

Before beginning your application, read through the entire job description and pick out specific words that are used and change the wording in certain places to match this wording. This could be anything from “responsible” to “attentive” to “research”. When an application is read by a computer, the computer will pick out words that match the job description and send those to the top of the pile. For example, you could change “wrote and edited 15 articles per week” to “reported on 15 news-worthy stories per week,” to more accurately match a job description. The meaning of these are the same but one will help the computer recognize you as a qualified candidate. 

Use small pops of color to highlight your personality

Gone are the days of black and white resumes. No matter what field you’re going into, you’re going to be using logos, commercials, social media and other forms of advertising. Showing that you know how to market yourself will also help show a hiring manager that you’ll be able to market for your brand, company or organization. There’s no need for a hot pink background and teal font, but using navy or grey font instead of black, or adding a small monogram or watermark in baby pink or light blue will show that you can work Canva, Photoshop, Illustrator and other graphic design platforms in a classy way, which can give you a big leg up. In the words of Elle Woods, “it gives it a little something extra. Don’t you think?”

Don’t use generic cover letters

There’s absolutely a way to make your cover letters personal and exciting to read, while still remaining professional. For example, this is an excerpt from my most recent cover letter:

“During my time working at Walt Disney World, I learned to value the four important keys of customer service: Safety, Courtesy, Show and Efficiency. Just like at Disney, selling cars at your dealership is all about making magic for the customer and providing a seamless experience during the car-buying process.”

Find ways to relate your previous job experience to the job you want, and find ways to make it readable and interesting. They’ve already read your resume, so you don’t need to reiterate all of your hard skills. This is the time to really display your personality, soft skills and show them why you’re a more interesting candidate than the rest. 

Attach a link to your online portfolio or website

If you don’t have an online portfolio already, head to Wix or Weebly to make one for yourself. It should include your resume, a little bit about yourself, and samples of your work. Including a link to this will give the hiring manager something more thorough and more tangible to look at than a resume. It also showcases your ability to highlight and summarize your skills and talents. 

Follow up immediately

With a regular, paper job application, you would normally wait 2-3 business days to follow up with an employer. In the case of an online job application, you should follow up the moment you hit submit. Call the office and let them know that you just submitted an application over an online job board and ask when you can expect to hear back from them about an interview. This may be a little forward, and feel awkward, but it will show them that you care about the job and you aren’t just aimlessly scrolling through Indeed and hitting send. 

Being an online job candidate can often feel like being a small fish in a very, very large pond. If you continue to strive for the positions you want and apply some of these tips, you’ll be getting called in for an interview before you know it. 

Georgia G

Georgia Gallagher graduated from the University of Alabama in the summer of 2019 where she majored in Journalism and Political Science. She is currently working as a Cast Member at  Walt Disney World in Florida. In her free time she can be found advocating for pro-life policies and working with single or low-income mothers. She often says that her planner is second only to her Bible and she’s never caught without a cup of coffee in her hand.