Avoid the “Résumé Black Hole” — Tips for Online Job Applications
Any job seeker in this digital age has been there. Sitting before the computer screen, you type your personal information into the drop down box, fill in the blank spaces with details from your résumé and click “Submit”. Then wait. And wait. And wait some more.
The ease of applying for a job online has flooded the market with applications. Some corporations send an automated response indicating the application was received; others enable you to check the status on your online profile. In many cases, applications are met with a wall of silence.
So how can you stop your application from slipping into the great abyss known as the “résumé black hole”?
Follow these tips.
1) Tailor Your Application. Many companies use automated tracking systems that screen résumés for keywords, former employers, and schools attended. Identify key words in the job description and tailor your application accordingly. If the job listing asks for an applicant who has “brand marketing expertise”, make sure you have “brand marketing” in your application. Indicate how your accomplishments meet their requirements. The more closely your skills are matched to the online ad, the greater your chances of success.
2) Make an Impression. Include a cover letter. This is your introduction to the recruiter, the first impression you will make. Make it a lasting one. Reveal your personality, illustrate your qualifications, highlight specific accomplishments and skills that address the job description and convey your desire for the position. Do not send a blanket letter that can be sent to any company for a variety of positions. They don’t want this any more than you want a generic response to your application.
3) Fill in the blanks. Fill out all fields within the application process. This information can make you stand out from the competition and demonstrate your interest and desire for the job. Some applications are dismissed if there are blanks and can be rejected in the recruiters’ automated filtering process. Don’t want to list your salary requirements? Write “Negotiable”. If there is a question concerning the name of your current boss, write “To be discussed”. This response also applies if you are currently unemployed. Request for references? Write “Available upon strong mutual interest.”
4) Follow Up. Underscore your interest with a quick follow up email about a week after the application is submitted. In a professional, courteous tone, state that you sent in an application last week and wanted to make sure your materials were received. Briefly reiterate your interest in the position and how you believe you are a good match. Close with how you would like to speak with them further when they are ready to begin scheduling interviews. Keep it short and simple; you don’t want to interrupt the employer or demand a response.
5) Be patient, not idle. Not hearing back right away doesn’t necessarily mean bad news. The hiring manager may have a mountain of applications to sort through or they might not be reviewing applications for a few weeks. So be patient. But not idle. Be proactive and continue exploring job opportunities, using these tips as your guide.