How To Apply For Jobs Online

By Ryan Morris
Oct. 10, 2022

Find a Job You Really Want In

Applying for jobs online can be a daunting process, regardless of whether you’ve done so before.

Deciding how often to respond to job listings, which ones are worth your time, and exactly how much time it’s worth spending on each individual application can take a lot of research and planning.

We’ve put together a few online application tips and tricks in the hope that we can make the process a little easier and a bit less intimidating for you.

Key Takeaways:

  • You should be applying to one or more job listing everyday, especially if you are out of work.

  • Keep your LinkedIn and resume updated frequently and make sure there are no errors among them.

  • You should tailor your resume to each job and include keywords to help you stand out from other candidates.

  • Job searches can sometimes take weeks or months, so don’t give up hope if you haven’t gotten a job after applying to a few jobs.

How To Apply For Online Jobs

Apply to at Least One Listing Every Day

It’s tougher some days than others, to be sure, but you should try to apply to at least one job posting per day — and remember that if nothing looks relevant to your experience, it’s okay to go a day or two without applying somewhere.

  • Some places will tell you to apply to as many listings as possible in order to make getting hired a numbers game. While this might work for certain industries, for the most part, this kind of spray-and-pray approach to job applying can sometimes have the opposite effect on your prospects.

  • The more applications you send out per day, the less time you spend on them, and the amount of time you spend working on an application will be noticeable to any good hiring manager.

  • When you’re out of work, you should be treating your application process as your job — get started early in the morning, and make sure to keep going for hours.

    Once you’ve got a good process, you should try to apply to more and more every day, but if you’re having trouble getting started, taking each day one listing at a time is a good way to keep yourself moving while adjusting to the job-hunting process.

  • You should tailor your resume and cover letter to each individual listing, which is difficult to do unless you’ve really taken the chance to do your research for a job.

Use Form-Saving Software to Save Time

Form-saving software like Autofill, LastPass, and RoboForm can all save certain information and act as automatic application fillers, which can help save time on the parts of your online applications that are the most tedious.

  • Things like your employment history, education, contact information all the pieces of your resume that rarely change with individual listings — can often be put into form-saving programs like the ones above.

    In addition to saving you time, these kinds of programs can help give you hope — filling out the same information every time can be a real drag on your psyche, especially if your job hunt takes more than a few weeks.

  • Spending your time tailoring your resume or cover letter lets you focus on what’s new and exciting about each new job posting rather than forcing you to wallow in what’s come before.

  • Not every website works perfectly with form-filler programs, however, and certain online application programs will make it all but impossible for you to use autofill for anything. For this reason, it’s also a good idea to set aside information in an unofficial, non-resume format, perhaps in a text document or Excel spreadsheet.

    You don’t need to show this information to anyone — it’s just for you, a place where all of your job information is in an easily accessible (not to mention copy-and-pastable) format.

Update Your LinkedIn Frequently

For many employers these days, LinkedIn is the only thing that matters. Some hiring managers will barely even look at your resume, preferring to look primarily at your LinkedIn profile to see what connections you have, what skills you’ve listed, and who’s chosen to endorse those skills.

There are a lot of things you can do to make your profile stand out in more advanced ways, but for now, we’ll stick to some of the simpler ones. The simplest thing you can do to start cleaning up your LinkedIn page is, perhaps unsurprisingly, to actually fill everything out.

  • List your education, your skill sets, and try to come up with a simple but comprehensive summary of yourself — this is one of the first things employers will look at if they’re trying to get a sense of who you are and how capable you are of talking about yourself.

  • Make sure to use a professional profile picture that clearly shows your face — it shouldn’t look like a picture for Facebook or Tinder, though. That means no abs, no quirky graffiti on the wall behind you, and no holding up a fish you just caught.

    Just yourself, looking as professional as you can, giving a nice smile to the camera. Imagine the smile you’d have while giving someone a professional handshake. That’s the smile you want in the picture.

  • Make sure to utilize the skills section appropriately. You should list skills that are most relevant to the jobs that you’re looking for, but that aren’t so hyper specific that you won’t be able to reach the full range of positions to which you’re applying.

    Look up some of the skills that people in these positions tend to list, and think about yourself critically: do you feel comfortable telling people you have those skills?

    If you don’t feel comfortable saying all the skills that come to mind, then you should pick only those that you do, as LinkedIn is different from a traditional resume in that the skills you list are only as good as the people you get to endorse them.

  • After you list your skills, your next step is to reach out to former employers and ask them to endorse one or more of the skills you claim to have.

    The more endorsements, the better, but given that these are former employers of yours, you want to be as sure as you can be that they’ll put their names on the line by endorsing you.

    Most will out of courtesy, if nothing else, but this should still keep you from making any strange or unusual claims about your capacity. Save that for the resume itself, which nobody reads for more than six seconds anyway.

Remember Keywords, but Don’t Overuse Them

Keywords can help if your resume is going through any kind of applicant tracking system (ATS), which is more or less likely depending on the size of the company you’re applying to — more likely if the company is large, less if it’s small.

  • But one way or another that resume is still going to get itself into human hands, so you want to make sure that the use of these buzzwords isn’t too blatant or distracting.

  • This is part of the way that you can alter your resume to appeal to a number of different job types — by simply switching out the words you’re using to describe the same skills with synonyms or by making other small sentence-level changes.

  • To find out what keywords you should be using in your resume, you’ll need to do a little bit of research.

    These keywords are occupation-specific, after all, and on top of that, they often change depending on what’s in vogue — so do a little digging and find out what some good ones are that you can try incorporating before you send your resume out into the world.

  • And above all, remember to use action words to describe your proficiencies. That is, rather than simply saying “Microsoft Word,” mention in what way you’re proficient in Word, or talk about a specific project or responsibility that you accomplished by using it.

Make Sure to Follow Up

Lastly, once you’ve sent out your application, don’t just sit on your hands. Many potential employers don’t simply see a follow up as being a nice bonus to a good-looking resume, but instead see it as a necessary step to making sure a potential employee is really interested in the gig.

  • By following up with an employer, you increase the chance that they’ll remember your name, making it that much more likely that they’ll take the time to think about how you’ll fit into their team overall.

  • Your follow-up letter doesn’t need to be long. A short email stating how happy you’d be to talk and answer any additional questions is perfectly serviceable, and if you can bring up some kind of personal info or shared interest of the employer or hiring manager, then all the better.

  • Make sure the email is professional, contains no spelling errors, and remains to the point. No need to meander — you’re just trying to keep your name in the hiring manager’s mind as much as possible.

  • Make sure to wait at least a few days before you follow up, but don’t wait too long — after two weeks or more have passed, it becomes likely that not only will they have a few good candidates picked out, but they might even have already filled the position.

Additional Tips for Applying for Jobs Online

Below are some extra tips to help you in your online job search and application process:

  1. Customize your resume and cover letter. Every application you send online should be fully customized for the job you’re applying for. That means reading job descriptions carefully and strategically altering keywords in your resume, while also tailoring your resume summary statement for the specific position.

    Cover letters require even more customization for each application. Your cover letter should highlight which of your skills and experiences closely align with the responsibilities of the job you’re applying for.

    Additionally, each cover letter should speak to why you’re interested in working for this specific company, whether that be based on what they can offer you or how their values match up with your own.

  2. Use job search engines. There are many websites for searching for jobs online (including the one you’re on now). These allow you to narrow down your job search by using filters for things like salary, position title, and location. There are also online job boards for specific industries and roles.

    After creating an account on job search websites, you can save a lot of the information from your resume to help speed up the process. Note that you may still have to manually input a lot of information, depending on the site, the company, and their process.

  3. Utilize company’s “jobs” pages. If you already know what company you’d like to work for, you can look for job postings directly on their website. Many of these sites use applicant tracking systems that allow you to check up on the status of your application.

    That’s the big companies, anyway. For smaller companies, they may direct you to send your application materials to an email address. Only ever use a professional email address for these correspondences. Make sure you write an informative subject line with your full name and the position you’re applying for. Then, write a condensed cover letter pitch and attach your actual cover letter and resume.

  4. Follow all instructions. When you’re applying for jobs online, one major screening process is following the application instructions. Be sure to send application materials to the email address you’re directed to, fill out any forms you’re asked to fill out, and that you submit all materials that the employer has requested.

  5. Be prepared for employment tests. Some applications may require you to take a talent assessment or employment test. These might be to determine your skill level with various technical tasks or just a personality test to see if you’d fit in with the existing team.

    Be sure to follow all instructions for employment tests and take them in a timely manner if they’re a required part of your application.

  6. Have references ready. Before you start your job search, you should organize a list of references of people you’ve worked with in the past that can speak to your professional abilities. Reach out to your potential references and ask them if they’d be willing to vouch for you.

    Most applications only require three references, but it’s not a bad idea to have a few more ready just in case. Some references might be better suited for certain companies and roles. People you can use as references include former professors, supervisors, mentors, and coworkers. Be sure to tell your references what sorts of jobs you’re applying for so that they know what skills and experiences to talk about the most.

  7. Know your availability. When applying for job it’s important to know which days you can work and for how long. This will be important because some applications might want you to put down your availability on the application and some might call and ask you.

    You don’t want to be looking like a deer in headlights when this question comes up. And you shouldn’t lie about your availability and say it’s open just because you think that’s what the employer wants from you.

  8. Be selective. When you go for the spray-and-pray method of job applications, you’re bound to hear back from fewer employers. While you want to give yourself a lot of options, be careful to only apply for jobs you understand and are genuinely interested in.

    That will make everything, from tailoring your resume to writing your cover letter to nailing your interview, much easier. Three high-quality applications per week are better than sending five low-quality ones every day.

  9. Don’t lose faith. Job searches can take weeks or even months. Don’t lose hope that you’ll ever land your dream job — persistence will pay off in the end. Remember that members of your network, both online and off, can be valuable resources for finding and landing jobs.

    By all means, keep applying for jobs online — just don’t forget to diversify your strategies to maximize your chances of success.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, you want to take your time with each resume when you’re first getting started, as job-hunting can be an intimidating and debilitating process if you’re not careful.

Spend a lot of time developing your resume, and save time for yourself later by making as many versions as you can early on. Stack your deck by building out relevant social media like your LinkedIn profile, and remember the importance of keywords and following up.

Last, but not least, take a breath. Job-hunting is a stressful and frustrating process, but it’s all worth it to get that final acceptance call. So make sure to take care of yourself as you’re going through your resume-writing and interviewing — in the end, you’ll be glad you did.

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Ryan Morris

Ryan Morris was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog who tried to make the job process a little more entertaining for all those involved. He obtained his BA and Masters from Appalachian State University.

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