Apply Online? Are You Kidding Me?

I know what you’re thinking. If it’s a candidate market and companies are desperate to find good talent, why am I still being asked to embark on a lengthy application process online?

It’s a fair question and the answer is simple. When done correctly, you will stand out and increase your chances of getting an interview.

More than 20% of the employed population has left a job since April 2021.

The Great Resignation is, indeed, heartburn for hiring managers right now. More people ARE leaving jobs. But consider this. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than 20% of the employed population has left a job since April 2021. These numbers are led by those between the ages of 16 and 24 years old with the leisure and hospitality industry impacted at much higher rates than other industries.

What does that mean to you? Unless you fit those demographics, you may still find a job search quite competitive in the offer process. As a senior corporate recruiter at BGE, I am looking to fill dozens of open positions. Our recruiting team reviews hundreds of resumes and applications per week. Trust me when I tell you that your online application DOES make a difference. Here are a few tips to get noticed.

1. One size doesn't fit all.

Let’s face it – your resume isn’t going to speak to everything you have done or can do.

Before uploading, tailor your resume with keywords from the job posting showing your capabilities and readiness for the role. One version of your resume may not be enough, particularly when you’re looking for a change. Hiring teams aren’t mind readers but are motivated to be just as creative as you are in your search.

Consider uploading a custom cover letter outlining more to help the hiring team envision you in the role.

2. Play the field.

Don’t upload your resume and run! This is, without a doubt, a deciding factor in application results. Many online processes include questions with text fields allowing you to ELABORATE on what you have done or what you need in a new job not featured on your resume. 

Think of the application process as your first project for the desired role! Complete the application from start to finish, answering all the fields and double-checking your spelling along the way. 

Include the name of the person who referred you – that carries weight. Don’t skip the very field that can get your foot in the door.

3. I still want to beat the system.

Arron Daniels, talent research guru for Starbucks, offers these additional tips for optimal results when applying online:

Larger companies have business units that have corresponding portals to funnel applicants. Once you are in that portal within an online system and want to apply to a new job, you may have to restart your search from the home page.

Don’t use varying fonts when applying. Your resume or other information may “parse” improperly and key information may be dropped.

When uploading your resume, label the file with your name. Hiring leaders and recruiting teams may forward resumes to other business units for upcoming needs. You want to be part of a “talent pipeline.” Resumes labeled with position title or “New Resume 2022,” etc. are not as “trackable” as your name.

4. Who's on first? The salary question debate.

You have good reason to be wary of showing your hand first, especially in an application process, with no ability to elaborate. The old saying, “the first one to speak … loses,” can still hold true in many salary discussions. Network in your field and know your worth. You don’t want to be “lowballed,” but you also don’t want to miss out on a development opportunity. 

If a candidate receives a 20 to 30% above-market offer to switch companies, he or she is already excelling in a similar role. Asking for a 20 to 30% increase above market for a role that is a stretch for you may fail. Realistic salary expectations could be your foot in the door. When asked on an application, offer a range that matches where you fit in the requirements of the role. You can also offer to discuss salary further in an interview.

This is a wonderful time to pursue your dream job and know your worth (insert my shameless plug for BGE here!). Career coaches, LinkedIn posters and other “experts” say, “Don’t settle!” And you shouldn’t. Just make sure you still have your game face on with examples of achievement, trainability, ability to work within new processes and ability to grasp new technology.

Wait a minute! That sounds like an online application process.
Make it work for you!

Experts say, "Don't settle!" And you shouldn't.

Picture of Jennifer L. Adkins

Jennifer L. Adkins

With nearly 30 years of experience in recruiting, Jennifer serves as senior corporate recruiter at BGE. Her talent lies not only in matching skills and qualifications, but also cultural compatibility. She is passionate about finding the right role for the right candidate. Her approach to her work can be summed up with the following mantra – Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.