vortexLet’s say you just found a great job online that fits your skill set. You follow the website’s instructions, and you submit your application and resume online. After you click the final “Submit,” button, you sit and wait for something to happen.

So what really happens to your online job application? Your profile enters a website portal or applicant tracking system such as iCIMS, where your name appears in a list along other candidates. If a company uses recruiters on-site, recruiters look up a job by its requisition number, and glance through the resumes to look for a good fit. Usually, recruiters will use a sorting tool to “weed out” the irrelevant resumes. Some positions can have over 300-500 applicants. It isn’t reasonable or productive to read each resume all the way through. That’s why it is crucial to use key words from the job description in your resume so that it “makes it” to the top of the heap. For example, if you are applying to a job in Marketing, you would want to use the keywords: “business-to-consumer marketing,” “direct marketing initiatives,” or “campaign data management.”

The way to get your resume noticed is to apply early. As soon as a job is posted, or even before it is posted, be ready to apply with your updated resume. You might be asking, “Well, how do I apply for a job that isn’t posted yet?” Many companies will allow you to submit a resume on their website as a general application. While this might not render a response, it’s a good way of entering your resume into their system. Then, as soon as you see a job you would like, you can apply right away. I recommend signing up for email alerts that send you an email whenever a job in your field is posted.

Sometimes, company websites have bugs that can delay your application. One time, I had to change my password three times to apply to a job that I really wanted. It took me over three days to submit my resume. It was a frustrating experience and unfortunately, I was never called for the job. That’s why it’s good to have a general job application completed beforehand, especially if you are targeting one specific company.

Even though many jobs remain open from three to six weeks, recruiters set up interviews with hiring managers within the first two weeks after the job is posted. It is rare for recruiters to seek new candidates after a position has been posted for three to four weeks. Therefore, if you are looking for work on websites such as Careerbuilder.com, Indeed.com, or SimplyHired.com, look for the most recent jobs first, and avoid jobs that were posted over 20 days ago. Also be on the lookout for jobs that are posted and re-posted. This is a huge red flag. It means that either the hiring manager is too picky, the job might not pay well, or the job environment is questionable. As important as it is to find a job, it is more important to find a job that is steady and reliable.

Lastly, do not become discouraged if you apply to over 20 jobs online and receive no response. With hundreds of online applications, it is difficult to stand out. That is why I always recommend connecting with recruiters, managers, or other employees on LinkedIn or face-to-face.

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