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Fastest Job Search » Step 1: Successful Online Job Application
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  • Step 1: Successful Online Job Application

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    Welcome to the first day of the rest of your professional life! As we mentioned in our last post, a successful job search is as easy as following 9 simple steps. Our first step, where your hard work really begins, is where most people – those who remain unemployed, that is – stop: the job application.

    Like pretty much everything else, the days of mailing hard copies of your resumé and cover letter to a company have given way to the internet. Typically, you will email your job application directly to a company’s recruiter or HR department. An organization will often have an online submission program in which you upload your documents to its online database. But once you email or submit it online, you will find yourself one of many minnows swimming in the huge internet ocean. Online applications are like fish swimming in the sea

    Your application will be thrown into the mix with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of others. Simply having a stellar work history won’t help you stand out in any significant way. If it is a bigger company, chances are your application will not even be read by a human. Your online application might be first filtered by a job application spider that is looking for job-specific keywords. At this point, you may be in the game, but your value as an applicant is low.

    Give greater value to your online application

    There are two important steps to creating a winning online application and get yourself noticed over the fray: Correct File Formatting and Targeted Content.

    Correct File Formatting

    A company will not hire you if they can’t read your job application. If the person trying to read your job application cannot open or read the file because it is in an improper format, he/she will simply throw it away. You must be sure to file documents that are in readable file formats such, as Microsoft Word “.doc” or “.pdf” format.
    Use correct format in job applications
    A “.pdf” is preferable because you can be sure the person reading your resume and cover letter will see it just as you do. Borders, bullet points, and other stylistic elements of layout will remain as you intended them. The aesthetic qualities of your job application will not suffer from you and your recruiter having incompatible versions of Microsoft Word.

    IMPORTANT: If you are going to file a .pdf, be sure it is a readable .pdf and not an image. To tell if your pdf is readable, open it in any pdf reader (such as Adobe Acrobat Reader) and attempt to copy a line of text and then pasting it into, for example, an email. If you can do this, it will be readable.

    Targeted Job Application Content
    In order to receive consideration for a job opening, your job application must be on point. This is not just about spell-checking. For each job to which you apply, you must edit your application so it accords closely with the job description, highlighting skills and experiences that would make you the ideal candidate for the job.
    Use keywords in job application
    Look for important key words in the job posting. If the job post says the applicant must be “capable with Excel,” then make sure your application also says “capable with Excel” (that is if you really are; while slight embellishments are ok, blatant lying on your application will come back to bite you). This is where the importance of targeted content comes into play.

    Online job applications may be crawled for keywords much in the same way websites are crawled by spiders and robots. So, rhetorically, “proficient with spreadsheets” and “capable with Excel” mean the same thing, but to a robots sifting through the glut of applications, your words will not register as a match.

    To summarize, a competitive job application must be in a proper, readable format – such as a .doc or readable .pdf (not an image) – and its words must be specifically edited for each job.

    While necessary to give yourself an edge in the hiring process, this work is by no means sufficient. You could have the perfect job application, an impressive resume and crisp cover letter, and still not even get an interview. Developing a successful online job application is just the beginning. The important work is yet to come.

    In the next post on Fastest Job Search, we will discuss the second step on your way to being hired for the right job: “Start a Job Search Management System.”

    A successful job search starts with a properly formatted job application
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    Next: Step 2: Start a Job Search Management System
    Previous: Successful Job Search in 4 Months!

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