How to Apply to Jobs Online in 16 Actionable Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 24, 2022

Published August 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As many employers post job vacancies on the internet to reach more qualified candidates, it's important to know how to apply for jobs online. Each online application process is unique, but there are some fundamentals you can learn to make it easier to apply. Knowing how and where to search for jobs online can help you find a role that suits your qualifications. In this article, we discuss how to apply to jobs online and provide 16 steps you can follow.

Related: 14 Job Search Tips To Help You Find the Right Job

How to apply to jobs online

Here are 16 simple steps you can use to apply for jobs online:

1. Gather the right tools

To start applying to jobs online, make sure you have a computer, internet access, an email address and a resume and a cover letter saved in PDF format. If you don't have a computer with internet access at home, consider finding a computer at a community facility, such as a library. Bring a USB stick with you so that you can easily access the files for your resume and cover letter. You could also write or upload your resume and cover letter to a cloud computing service that makes it easier to share files across devices.

2. Update your resume

Before you apply to online jobs, update your resume and draft a basic cover letter. On your resume, include your current contact information and your full employment history. Save your resume under a simple title containing the word "resume" that's easy for hiring managers to identify, with your first and last name and the current year.

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3. Know the details of your employment history

Gather details related to your employment history before you apply to jobs online. Some potential employers want to know specifics about your past work experiences, such as the company's address, phone number or the name of your supervisor. While it's often unnecessary to include these details on your resume, it's a good idea to be prepared to answer these questions on your application if they arise.

4. Update your profile on professional networking platforms

Some recruiters and companies prefer to look at your profile on professional networking platforms rather than your resume because the platform layout is similar for each profile. Make sure that your profile is up-to-date and that all your posts are professional and workplace appropriate. If you have a professional website that includes samples of your work, you can add a link to your online portfolio on your application or in your resume.

5. Ask your references ahead of time

Ask people in your network if they're willing to be a reference for you before including their contact information on a job application. While many jobs ask for references only after the initial stage of the application process, some online job postings may request references from you immediately. Be prepared and confirm beforehand that your chosen references can help you with your employment search.

Related: Should You Put References on a Resume? (And Other FAQs)

6. Use keywords

Find keywords in the job descriptions for positions that interest you. Using relevant keywords in your resume can help a recruiter scan your resume easily. Some companies also use applicant tracking systems (ATS) that search for keywords automatically. Adding some of those keywords can persuade the ATS to send your resume to the hiring manager for further review.

Review your resume and include these keywords if they apply. For example, if the description states that you need excellent teamwork skills, try to incorporate examples of your teamwork abilities into your resume and cover letter.

Related: What Are Resume Keywords and Why Are They Important?

7. Use job search engines and company websites

Many companies post their open positions on job search engine websites. You can search these websites for jobs you're interested in by using different filters, like job title, salary, and location. Make sure you perform a thorough search to find all jobs that interest you.

If you know which organizations you want to work for, you can look at their websites directly for job listings under the careers section of their site. When you apply on a company website, your application typically goes into the ATS, where you can check your application status to see if the company has reviewed or approved it.

Related: What Are Job Search Tools? (List of Tools and Tips)

8. Be selective

Make sure you understand the requirements for a job and only apply if you meet them. It's often better to apply only for jobs at organizations you want to work for and that match your goals and skill set. Because it can take some time to fill out an application for each job, you can save more time by being selective during your search.

Apply to the jobs you're most interested in pursuing. Focus your attention on positions, companies, or opportunities that excite you. Applying for the jobs that interest you can help you feel more energized while applying for many jobs. It also makes you more likely to focus and pay attention to detail in the applications you send.

9. Create a separate cover letter for each application

Your cover letter should address the specific job requirements and highlight your skills and achievements. Mention how you would use your knowledge and skills in the position, and give examples of how you helped former employers with similar issues. In addition, try to emphasize one or more reasons this particular position or company excites you. Make your cover letter focused and short to keep the recruiter's interest.

Related: What Is a Cover Letter? (With Tips, Template, and Example)

10. Apply to jobs online

Create online accounts with job boards and company websites. Most online job portals require you to choose a username and password to apply for jobs. Once you've finished making your account, you can typically attach your resume to your profile. Add your resume to the job portal by either uploading it as a PDF file, copying and pasting it into the online portal, or typing in the information manually.

11. Adhere to the instructions

Read the directions in the job posting about how to apply for that position. While many jobs online ask you to submit an application through an online portal, smaller companies may provide an email address to which you need to send your cover letter and resume. In the subject line of the email, add your full name and the title of the position. Use the body of the email as an abbreviated version of your cover letter. Give a short explanation of why you're applying for the role. Attach your resume and cover letter to the email.

12. Know your availability

Know what day or week you'd be able to start working for this company should they choose to hire you. Some online job applications ask you to select a date when you'd be available or to give a time frame, such as within the next two weeks. If you're currently working for another company, consider that you may first need to give notice at your current job before beginning a new position.

13. Edit and proofread your responses

Before submitting your job application, carefully read over the information you include. Many online job portals automatically ask you to review your application prior to submission, but you can also typically navigate back to previous web pages to review the information there. Make sure that your content is clear and provides the best possible first impression of your professional qualifications. Check for any mistakes, such as typos or spelling errors.

14. Monitor your applications

Track your applications after you've submitted them. You might find it helpful to use a spreadsheet or another tool to monitor the status of your applications. You might also want to call or email someone about the status of your application. Allow enough time to pass before you follow up on your application. Two weeks is typically appropriate.

15. Prepare for online employment tests

Be ready to take online tests as part of your job applications. Some jobs require candidates to take online evaluations as part of their screening process. You might receive a personality, behavioural, skills, or another test in your email inbox immediately or shortly after submitting an online application. Be sure to complete the test within the designated time frame so that companies know you're a serious and committed candidate for their open position.

Related: 23 In-Demand Skills To Help You Find a Job

16. Understand that this process takes time

Try to be patient when learning how to apply to jobs online. The hiring process can sometimes take several weeks. Be optimistic that you can eventually find the right opportunity for yourself, and keep applying for more jobs online.

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