How to Make the Most Out of Your Online Job Search

Beware of spending too much time online

The world of online job search engines has revolutionized how people look for jobs and how employers find talent. With sites like Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster and more, you can now view hundreds of job postings in your job field with just the click of a button.

While it all sounds well and good, the dramatic expansion of access to job listings means that more people are competing for the same positions. Employers can receive hundreds and hundreds of resumes for just one job position. With this kind of competition, it’s hard to get your resume to the top of the pile.

With this in mind, it’s a good idea to find out how to make the most out of your online job search. What are some good “rules of thumb” to follow? How can you search efficiently and avoid wasting your time? Try these 5 tips and see if they make sense for you.

Rule 1: Spend only about 10% of your job search time online.
In general, people are more likely to find jobs through networking than through the major job aggregators like LinkedIn or SimplyHired. Hearing of a job lead from a friend or former colleague is more likely to lead to an interview than submitting your resume online with hundreds of competitors. Alternatives to online job searching might be:

  • Reach out to your contacts on LinkedIn and tell them you are job searching
  • Volunteer or do temp work in your career field
  • Join a professional association
  • Attend a networking event in your community
  • Talk to career services professionals at your college or career school

Rule 2: If you’re not qualified, don’t apply.
Employers are looking for applicants who fit their qualifications. With so many applicants in the job pool, your resume will likely be overlooked if you don’t have the qualifications that are specified in the job posting. So don’t waste your time applying. Spend this time working on applications where your skills and experience are more suited to the job.

Rule 3: Subscribe to automatic alerts.
Most of the major job websites have an email alert system. You can enter in the parameters of your job search, and the site will email you when new jobs are posted. This saves you the time of searching and scrolling through the job listings every day.

Rule 4: Target your search to companies you know.
One strategy that helps make your job search less random and more promising is to search for specific employers. In particular, target the employers where you already know people. This way if a job opening comes up, you can contact the person you know and ask if they can help get your resume into the HR department’s hands. To find openings at these employers, you can either search for openings on the company’s website, or search for the company’s listings in the job aggregator sites.

Rule 5: Make your application search-friendly.
When you find an online job posting for which you are qualified and decide that you want to apply, be sure to make your application “scanner friendly.” Many companies use resume scanning systems to weed out the unqualified resumes. These scanners may look for keywords in your resume and cover letter, so be sure to use the same type of wording that is used in the job posting. This will help increase the chances that your resume is recognized. Also be sure to submit your resume in the format that is requested so that you are sure the scanner can read your submission.

Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to follow up.
With big HR departments screening out applicants, it’s harder and harder to know how to contact someone about your resume. But it still never hurts to follow up. Try finding the name and email address of the HR person, hiring manager, or direct report. Send them a polite email about 2 weeks after submitting your resume, and ask if they’ve received everything they need. This will help differentiate you from the job applicants who apply for jobs indiscriminately.

We hope this guide has helped you refine your process for online job searching. Remember, searching for jobs online should be only one small part of your overall job search strategy. And most importantly, don’t give up hope. Job searching can be frustrating, but it’s important to keep on going ‘til you get there.


The Branford Hall Career Institute prepares students for new careers in the fields of healthcare, HVAC, computer network and security, culinary arts, and more. Contact us online to learn more about starting a new career path with us.