Posted & filed under Job Seeker Tips.

MarkBy Mark McGuire

As a recruiter and former job-seeker alike, it’s easy to realize the benefit and frustrations of the online job application process.  For most, the job search process can be discouraging (sub: tedious, drawn-out, time consuming, unnerving…).  The added frustration of online applications frequently going unacknowledged doesn’t help the cause. 

Candidates are regularly surprised when we reach out to discuss their online application, especially when it happens within a 24 hour window after applying.  Even more often we hear “Oh wow, I wasn’t sure this was a real job.”  While some staffing agencies have been known to advertise generic postings to help build a pipeline of qualified candidates, it tends to be less prevalent than candidates think.  The reality is that you are probably applying to jobs you aren’t qualified for.  We’ve compiled a list of tips to maximize your likelihood of a “call back,” and to aid in setting yourself apart from the herd of other (usually unqualified) applicants.

1.       Read the job description. 

More often than not, we run into “serial appliers.”  Most of us have been guilty of this at some point.  This includes: seeing a company you are mildly-to-wildly interested in, skimming a few lines of the description, and firing off your universal resume.

Take the time to read through the summary, the responsibilities, and most importantly, the qualifications.  Be able to explain how you are qualified, why you want to do this job, and how the recruiter will be making a big mistake by not submitting your application to the hiring manager

2.       Be qualified.

Being confident that you can pick up anything given the right amount of time does count for something, but it only carries you so far.  A manger’s ideal candidate requires minimal training.  When reviewing the qualifications section you should match 90% of the required and at least half of the desired skills.  If you’ve always been interested in learning Ruby on Rails, but have only been working on the Help Desk since graduating last semester, maybe the Senior Ruby Developer isn’t a realistic next step. Move on.

3.       Shape your resume (yes, for every job.)

This is huge.  It takes time, thought, and effort but the payoff is well worth it.  Tailoring your resume to reflect the job verbiage will catch the eye of whoever is initially reviewing your resume.   Even if you aren’t a perfect match, you’ll be more likely to get a call to discuss further.

From a recruiting standpoint, our inboxes are generally flooded with online applications.  Most of which, are terribly under qualified, not local (and serious about relocating), and unresponsive to our calls because they can’t keep their information straight after applying to so many jobs.

Take the time to get serious about your job search.  Read the full description, save it to your desktop.  Tailor your resume and research the company.  Be responsive.  If you are reached out to – realize and share the sense of urgency– managers will not hold on jobs because you’re busy at work, have karate on Tuesdays and cooking class on Wednesdays.  It’s a competitive market; get your game face on.

The online application process is an efficient, convenient and a great tool if used right.  Utilize the above tips and give it another try.  You might even end up with a job.

3 Responses to “Your Online Application – Setting Yourself Apart from the Herd”

  1. Michelle

    I have been a job seeker for 7 months, & had maybe 3 interviews, applied about 1000, yes, I write everything down that I applied at, 3 notebooks full, 3 temp agencies working with me, oh & I almost got caught up in some international mailing of packages to my home & me resending from my address out of the country…needless to say, if i didn’t think they would screw me out of the money i would me getting monthly, i would probably do it. Ok, so anymore advice? I need a job asap, like a month ago!!

    • Mark McGuire

      Michelle – thank you for your response. I can definitely appreciate your frustration. The process is absolutely consuming. One point I hoped to drive in the write up is that the online application process is about quality, not quantity. The nature of the process has made it easy to cast a wide spread net in just a few clicks; perhaps too easy.

      1000 jobs is a lot – but I get it. The best advice I ever got was to avoid the serial applying, and focus on 3-5 jobs every week. Take the time to make sure the job description depicts something you want to get up and do every morning (and that you can do!). This should help to spark the motivation necessary to put the time into actively pursuing it.

      It’s not enough to just apply. Do your best to figure out a way to get in touch with who you think might be reviewing your resume. Generally it won’t be listed. If I don’t have any connections to the company, I’ve called the company and asked to be directed to HR, and tried to work my way in through there. Linkedin can also be a great resource to utilize your connections for introductions and recommendations. Strategic follow-up is key.

      Have you considered trying out a job search/interview workshop? There are some great options in the Boston area. Programs are generally geared toward various demographics to help address specific concerns. MIT offers some free online tools that can be helpful (for example: There are a lot of great resources out there to supplement your efforts.

      It’s hard to advise without seeing your resume, but since you have been out of the workforce for some time, you may want to consider making a lateral move in the meantime. Focus on jobs that include skills that your resume highlights and that you can speak too. It might not be the most enthralling move you’ll make in your career, but at the end of the day you’ll be doing your resume a favor by bridging the gaps – and be getting paid in the process.

      I’d be happy to take a look at your resume and continue the conversation. Feel free to email me –

      Best of luck, Michelle!



Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)