Applying for jobs online can be simple or quite painful. There are some things it is useful to know as you figure out how to apply for jobs online.

I will be writing much more about resumes and LinkedIn. If you already have a resume and LinkedIn profile, this article should be helpful.

Phase 1 – Your Resume and LinkedInProfile

Do I need a resume or LinkedIn profile? Both. Many sites offer an option between uploading your resume or your LinkeIn profile. Just be aware you want to have both before applying.

Additionally, you can try one way and if it becomes too painful, start over and try the other way.

What Should My Resume Format Be?

Results may vary. The general wisdom is to have a plain text version of your resume ready for upload. The thought here is that sans all the formatting you should have the smoothest ride through the Automatic Tracking System (ATS). Sometimes the ATS is affectionately referred to as “The Black Hole.”

What is the ATS?

I recently attended a panel discussion during which it was estimated that at least 90% of companies use an ATS. Even company size is not a guarantee that they aren’t using one since services are now available to smaller companies so they, too, can use an ATS.

The ATS looks for keywords. In theory, the higher your resume goes in matching keywords, the more likely the ATS will flag you as a potential candidate.

How the Heck Do I Check for Keywords?

Jobscan is your friend. (NOTE: The address is, not With Jobscan, you can dump your resume into one well and the job description in the other. Jobscan will do its magic and assess how many keyword matches there are.

You can then analyze your resume to see where it may be possible to insert additional appropriate keywords. For readers familiar with Cliff Notes, you will feel the same illicit thrill. All’s fair in love and war.

Jobscan also has a feature that links to your LinkedIn. It ?????????????????????

You can get a free account with Jobscan. The free account limits the number of scans you can do to five scans per month. Jobscan is generous and periodically gives you more free scans.

Click here for their article on the ATS.


You Have Your Resume – Now What?

You need a LinkedIn profile, too, in case the online application system you are using offers that option. You need a LinkedIn profile for more reasons than that.

The downfall here is that your LinkedIn profile and resume may be out of sync if you have modified your resume to match with the job description. And you can be pretty sure they will look at your LinkedIn profile if your resume catches their attention.


Phase 2 – Your Cover Letter

You may need a cover letter. Typical practice here is to have a stock cover letter that you then modify to the specific company and position. Even if not requested during the application process, some people include it anyway.

Phase 3 – Save Your Documents

Make sure you save the job-specific versions of the resume and cover letter that you use when applying. You may need to reference those if it is some time before you are contacted. It’s also a good idea to save a copy of the job description.

What Online Application Sites are Best?

Tough one. Some sites specialize in Tech or other aspects of industry.

Try Googling “Best online sites for [fill-in-the-blank] jobs”

Top Tips:

Adjust the date range of your query (I start with three months to the present). This stuff changes so fast that a 2015 article detailing the best sites for your field may be unreliable.

Where ever you find a job posted, see if you can apply for the position directly on the company’s website. If you go there and see the job isn’t listed, the position may be gone or is being handled by a placement agency. Postings that don’t reference the hiring company are almost certainly placement agency positions.


Placement Agencies

I will write in more detail about placement agencies in an upcoming post. Placement agencies are not viewed as the highest percentage move when looking for a position.

One exception is if you are a standout in your field. From my experience looking for tech jobs, if you match all the requirements, you will soon be negotiating a new salary with your new employer. If you don’t match up well with requirements, it will be a harder slog. I adhere to this stance based on my harder slog.

Geography can be a factor, too. Some agencies are more regional in nature and may be a good way to go if they specialize in your expertise and have a good reputation in the locale of your interest.



You will be looking for positions of interest.

Once you find a good match:

  1. Tailor your resume to the position.
  2. Tailor your cover letter to the position.
  3. Modify your LinkedIn profile as necessary.
  4. Save the job-specific resume and cover letter.
  5. Save the job description.
  6. Apply on the company website, if possible.


If you do these things, I guarantee you will get a new job fast.

If you do these things a few times, I guarantee you will develop a good feel for the process. As part of your overall approach, this will increase the odds of getting interest from potential employers.