Since the Internet revolution, a large number of job applications have migrated online. Gone are the days of filling out a paper application and handing it in personally at a company you were interested in. Now, most of your time is spent scrolling through dozens of Internet postings -- copying and pasting your resume, holding out the high school hope that the job you like likes you back. It's harder for an employer to quickly see how special you are -- on the Internet, you're just a number like everyone else.
No matter how good your resume is, just like in earlier days, you most likely won't get the job until your potential employer can talk with you face to face. Unless, of course, you are going for a job that is strictly online, or you get an interview through a colleague or friend. That's one disadvantage of applying for jobs online; it takes away any opportunity to make the personal connection that might get your foot in the door. Don't worry though -- you can fight against the inevitable anonymity by sending in your resume with a cover letter that knocks your would-be boss's socks off. That way, you can show off how articulate, qualified and charming you are on paper instead of in person.
Needle in a Haystack
Rest assured, you aren’t the only person applying for a job online. It used to be that people only applied for jobs in places where their feet, car or public transport could carry them -- but since the advent of the World Wide Web, tons of applicants submit their bid from wherever they can log on. This means that instead of competing with 50 people for an interview, you may be competing with 5,000. Many employers aren’t able to search through all the applicants for a particular position, which means your application may never be seen -- even if you are qualified. Or, if the employer does try to weed through all the applicants, it might be months before you hear anything back.
Cover Letter Trap
Thousands of jobs are available online, on numerous job boards, which means a productive day of job hunting can see you applying for more than a dozen positions. Because of the often mad dash to fill out applications, it's impossible to rewrite your cover letter to be the ideal lure for each job you want. Don't be tempted to send generic template cover letters to save time, since this will keep you from standing out from the pack in the long run. Instead, create a cover letter that can be cleverly tweaked for each position. It will be easier if you consistently apply for jobs in the same field -- that way you can keep the education and experience part of your cover letter unchanged and simply rework the addressee, the company and position you're applying for, and how you're uniquely qualified to give them what they need.
Admit it -- filling out job applications online can make you a little lazy. You don’t have to get dressed up or comb your hair, or even wash your face or brush your teeth. You don’t have to practice your firm handshake or be able to smile and chat at the same time. Part of the reason looking for a job in person is so important is that it allows you to practice your people skills. And ultimately, it's your people skills that will get you in the door. Brush up on your interpersonal communication by getting dressed and going out each day of your job hunt, even if your actual search is online. Even if you're only being chatty with your grocer, you must practice being engaging.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.