How to present yourself in an online job application

It’s not easy standing out from the crowd, many job ads don’t list a contact,how can you make it past all the competition? Technology has made it more challenging by creating more barriers for you to be able to speak to someone, get information and show off your talents.

To progress your career, you have to figure out how to remove those barriers and increase the chances to secure an interview which is the goal.

Many candidates feel frustrated about the online application process. The burning question is ‘if my resume matches the job advertised, why do I never get the opportunity to be interviewed?’.

Here are some of the reasons why you may not get that interview and a few helpful  things you can do to improve  your chances:

#1 Companies are overwhelmed with applicants. When a job is posted online, it is not unusual to received well over 100 applications in just a few days. This does not mean that all those candidates are suitable for that position. It just means that the number of candidates applying for these posts can become unmanageable for an HR department, hiring manager or recruiter to handle, and it is easy for your application to get lost in the shuffle. 

#2 You may be screened out by an automated screener, software called an Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), scanning resumes for keywords and phrases 

#3 Sometimes, you are not qualified or overqualified for the post. If you are overqualified employers, you fear that you will be aiming for a higher role and might lose you faster than a less qualified candidate. Recruitment advisors say that you have to focus on the elements of the job application process that you can control instead of concentrating on what you can’t.

The Elements that are in your control are: 

  • Identifying which companies to pursue, conducting research and preparing
  • Only apply for jobs where you are a 90-100% match to the job description/or key criteria 
  • Put effort into preparing your CV and use keywords taken from the job description throughout, making sure you follow the instructions perfectly 
  • Create a professional online identity and updated links in profile with ‘open to work’ 
  • When you get called in for an interview, prepare for this well and do your homework

Take control of the job application process

#1 Tailor your resume and make it to the top 25% of applications screened by an ATS 

Mastering application tracking systems make a huge difference as to whether you get a call for an interview or not. ATS software systems are what many companies use to screen applications when shortlisting candidates for interviews. More than 95% of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking systems, and more small to medium companies are shifting towards this as well.  

  • The hiring manager defines the skills they are looking for by using keywords. Then the software performs matches these words with the resume. 
  • If you see phrases used multiple times, you should also use the exact keywords in your CV. 
  • Keep the format of your CV simple. ATS scans the documents and will look for letters and numbers that it recognises via machine learning. For example, do not use a star ranking system when you are trying to indicate your proficiency level this may be missed.  
  • Keep your font type simple. A font type like Times New Roman and Arial can be easily read by automated systems. 
  • Avoid using images. ATS scans for words and not images. 

If you are in the creative industry, it is still worth having a resume in addition to your creative portfolio. Order your experience by listing the most recent and relevant that match up to the job post. Be consistent and include essentials like your name, website information, and contact details and make sure the hiring manager can easily spot the link to your creatives. Try and show a little personality in your CV as well. 

#2 Only apply if you are an 80% – 90% match 

Many candidates start applying for any job and then pray that something will catch. Studies show that if you are not an 80-90% match for a particular position, you will be tossed out by the applicant tracking system in most cases. Ensure that you review the skills sets they have listed and ask yourself if you have examples from your professional past to substantiate it. If you don’t meet the criteria, it is likely the ATS will automatically overlook you. 

#3 Before submitting, make sure that you are applying to a company that excites you.

Follow the employer on social media, specifically LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Companies today understand that to attract the best talent, they need to market themselves. This is called employer branding. More companies are doing this to attract top talent and provide them with a holistic view of what it is like to work with them. 

# Set up an online profile 

LinkedIn is a powerful platform to get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers. If you have an online presence, make sure that you present the best possible version of yourself. 

  • Display a photo that is recent and of high quality  
  • Post a video introducing yourself 
  • Add your job title to your headline 
  • Have a ‘what can I do for you’ orientated profile summary
  • Make your work experience short and sweet
  • Show off your recommendations
  • Share interesting information and articles you may publish

What to do when you land yourself that job interview?

Landing a job is more about your experience and soft skills. Your non-verbal communication includes your posture, buddy language and eye contact. Appropriate eye contact speaks to self-confidence and self-esteem. Ensure that you: 

  • appear knowledgeable  and confident
  • display good manners and likability 
  • show interest and intent demonstrate your listening skills 
  • Prepare questions


Speak to Recruitment Central if you are looking to step up in your career. We want to see you succeed to regain control and work on the elements of the online job application process that will lead you to your desired outcome from start to finish. Let’s chat 

Looking for further inspiration?

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