Guest Post – Quick Tips to Stand Out: Submitting Online Job Applications

Amanda Robbins is an Agency Recruiter and Trainer for Key Program Inc. CE and NE Massachusetts. Amanda started her job at Key Program as an entry-level supervisor and took advantage of the training and professional development at Key to get to where she is today. She has been on both ends of the application process and has compiled some advice based on her experiences.

Times are changing! Employers used to spend countless hours sorting through stacks of resumes and piles of employment applications in search of candidates who would best fit their hiring needs.

Today, more and more companies use online applicant tracking systems to screen applicants for employment opportunities. There are a variety of different job search methods such as networking, career fairs, word of mouth, the list goes on and on. But when you finally find a job you want to apply for, many agencies will direct you to their online job application regardless of how you heard of the position.


Now, recruiters and hiring managers still spend a considerable amount of their time screening these online applications, but the sheer volume of applications and resumes they are able to review using these systems is more easily accomplished. So when you’re applying for a job you want your application to stand out, but how can you stand out when you’re applying online?

 A roadmap to standing out

Job searching and applying online can be exhausting, but don’t take shortcuts. More often than not job seekers are applying to multiple positions. Using a generic cover letter and same resume is very tempting…. The first tip to standing out is to avoid cutting corners. Spending your time and energy on the application you submit for each job you apply for will have the greatest payoff!

The road to being noticed starts from the time you click “apply”….

It is important to thoroughly read job descriptions and make sure you are qualified for the position you intend to apply for. A strong majority of online recruiting systems have specific screening questions relevant to the requirements of the position. Employers are looking to see if applicants meet certain criteria and screening questions are designed to sort the most appropriate applicants from the rest. The strongest candidates’ application content and experience match up accordingly based on these questions, so be sure to thoroughly answer any and all screening questions, ensuring that fields do not go unanswered. Otherwise your resume goes unread and unnoticed.

Many online applications also have a section for “Application Notes.” You do yourself a disservice by leaving this section blank. You can write just about anything in this section you want an employer to know. However, It should be concise and to the point. Here are a few examples:

“In addition to my resume, I have uploaded my cover letter for your review.”
“I am dedicated to move into new professional territory despite challenges.”
“I am self motivated and have high expectations for the quality of my work performance.”

Create an original cover letter

A cover letter can be a powerful tool if executed well. It is your opportunity to showcase your qualifications and desire for the job. Researching the company website to get the information you need is an important first step in designing your cover letter.

By addressing your cover letter not just to any person (as in the all too familiar “Dear Hiring Manager”) but to the right person, candidates demonstrated that they have done their homework on the company and recruiters notice and appreciate those efforts.

Craft and upload a winning resume

You’ll serve yourself well to highlight your accomplishments through a tailored resume each time you apply for a position.  Using the job descriptions and your company knowledge you are can add specific verbiage to your resume that best showcase your strengths and transferable skills for the position.

All too often candidates don’t take the time or forget to upload their most current resume, leaving off important information employers should know. Being sure to include any goals that may be “in progress” is an important step not to be overlooked.

Take the time to upload your job-specific resume as a separate document by uploading and attaching it. Avoid simply pasting your resume into a text box. Even if the application instructions provide “copy and paste” as an option, your resume will likely not format correctly and in most cases will be visually unappealing to employers.

Before you hit “submit”

Before hitting the submit button, review all the information you are providing. This submission makes up your first impression. What you submit is what is seen, so when you apply make sure it accurately reflects your best first impression.

By: Amanda Robbins
Agency Recruiter and Trainer for Key Program Inc. CE and NE Massachusetts


About Key Program Inc.

Key’s mission is to assist troubled youth and their families with developing positive life skills and life experiences so that they may pursue productive and rewarding lives. For more than 40 years, Key has received the strong support of public agencies, private foundations, and the social services community as a whole. Our leadership in reshaping the lives of youth and their families has been rewarded with the continued support of many organizations.

The opportunities at Key are endless. One of the roles that we consider paramount is assisting entry-level and advanced professionals in the process of learning, developing, and enhancing their skills by providing solid, hands-on experience with intensive supervision and training. Key offers a comprehensive training program that provides a diversity of experiential and didactic approaches to learning about clinical and programmatic concepts.

We believe that what we do is An Experience for a Lifetime™ for our clients and for our care providers. Nothing is more important to us than continuing this commitment to excellence and leadership.

By Beth Teague
Beth Teague Graduate Assistant