Applicant tracking systems along with social media have made it so easy for candidates to apply online for jobs. Candidates who are not fully functional at submitting online job applications are a severe disadvantage when it comes to getting a new job.

In addition, candidates who resist the process dramatically reduce the chances they will be considered for a role.

98% of all online resume submissions are rejected.

If you are a job seeker, one of the biggest landmines to avoid in your job search is the resume black hole.  Typically, you don’t even realize that you are digging that black hole yourself by submitting an online application that does not clearly show how you meet minimum qualifications for the job in question.

If you are one of those candidates who hates applying online, I feel your pain. Most companies require you to complete a long form, provide confidential personal information like SSN, DOB and the name and phone number of your manager when you haven’t even spoken to a live human yet. It feels very invasive.

Many companies are making the online application process far more candidate friendly but so many employers still require a long online application process.  CareerRx teaches how to apply successfully and actually advance in the process. How? Only apply to job postings for which you are actually qualified. And submit a resume that is customized to nail the job posting.

Some candidates spend months applying to hundreds of jobs without any response.  No response is a red flag. It means you are doing a poor job of submitting the required information, you are applying to jobs for which you are not qualified or you are submitting desired compensation that is above the budgeted compensation for the role.

 Online Job Application FAQ

When you apply online, keep in mind that online job application process is an assessment process.
In fact, the entire job application process includes multiple assessments to qualify candidates for a specific job:

– Online application

– Prescreening questions

– Phone interview

– Interviews

– Any required tests or assessments

– Background verification process

So you probably should slow down, ensure that your Employment Application, which is a legal document they ask you to sign, is a quality submission. That means no spelling, capitalization, punctuation or other errors. No all caps. No all small caps.

Submitting an online job application is not optional in order to be considered as a candidate for a job.  Recruiters still have job seekers asking, “Why do I have to apply online?” All employers require an application. It’s important. The resume is a marketing document. The employment application is a legal document. Remember that.

We live in a paperless society.  Stop ranting about “Oh, there’s no personal touch anymore.”  Organizations have slashed the number of people in Talent Acquisition. They’ve been replaced with applicant tracking systems, online job applications and social media.

Online Job Application Rejection Rate

Lack of technical aptitude on the part of the candidate is the reason why 98 out of 100 online job applications are being immediately rejected. It’s a catastrophe for the candidate. They wasted all that time submitting online and did not even get considered. It’s also a disaster for the company.

Candidates feel that applicant tracking systems are too long and require too much information. Job seekers get frustrated and sacrifice quality just to submit an application/profile in the system.

Customization Is Key

In addition, most candidates are not aware that they should tailor their resume to the job requirements. Don’t submit a general resume.  The key thing you need to realize is that when you’re applying online, the functionality in most applicant tracking systems allows the Recruiter to keyword search the application and all the attachments. Resumes and profiles must be keyword rich and very specific.

CareerRx ProTips for Successfully Submitting Online Job Applications

If you feel when you apply online that it goes into a black hole, chances are that you dug the hole yourself.

  1. Think of Online Application as Response to RFP

Think of a job posting as a Request for Proposal. When you submit your resume, you are responding to a RFP.  If you don’t customize your resume to nail the job posting, don’t be shocked that no one calls you back. If the resume you submitted doesn’t have enough keywords and direct evidence of your relevant skills that prove you meet minimum qualifications, your application is doomed.

Instead of submitting an application is that likely to result in rejection, optimize your resume to ensure that it absolutely directly addresses all of the job’s requirements upfront.

  • Insert a one paragraph bio at the top of your resume that nails the job description
  • Customize your resume to directly address all of the requirements listed in the job posting.
  • Think of the job posting as an RFP (Request for Proposal) and your resume is the proposal. You would never submit a boilerplate, generic proposal to an RFP and the same goes for your online job applications.
  1. Remember that the Online Application Is Part of ATS Workflow

Applicant tracking systems also integrate with the HRIS, exporting all of your new hire data to HR and payroll after you are hired so you can get paid. Which is a very important thing. That’s why recruiters are like wedding planners. We get you married, process the hire, and then move on to a new couple after your new hire information has been exported to the HRIS.

Candidates need to understand companies use that very same system to process candidates from assessment all the way through to generating an offer. So the moment you tell a Recruiter you don’t want to be in the system, you move to the crazy candidate category.  That’s the same system they’re going to use to get approval to send you an offer package and hire you. You can’t opt out of the system nor should you ever want to.

Remember, not only are jobs posted from the applicant tracking system, interviews are scheduled out of the same system and even better, offers are generated out of that very same ATS.

  1. Identify Your Transferable Toolkit and Skills

Periodically, review your resume and delete content that is no longer relevant due to changes in technology. Your resume should highlight your “toolkit” of professional work experience, education, certifications, knowledge, skills and training that is current, relevant and critical to success in the job for which you are applying.

It’s essential to add all of your skills, abilities, experience and technical toolkit to your resume and online career brand to ensure that you are perceived as a qualified candidate.

  1. Spellcheck Will Save Your Job Search

Many candidates do not realize how essential it is to spellcheck their application for spelling and other errors. Candidates often will use abbreviations or send emails as if they were speaking, disregarding proper sentence structure and format. Recruiters many times will reject these candidates.  (Salpeter, 2012)

  1. Pair Quick Apply with Careers Site Applications

If you quick apply on LinkedIn or Indeed, it can’t hurt to apply online directly on the company Careers site.


Retool your job search, optimize your resume, and build an Online Career Brand with CareerRx™.  Learn how to develop a keyword rich detailed resume, bio and social media profile that comes up in Recruiter searches, launch your Online Career Brand on LinkedIn, social media, job boards and successfully submit online job applications on company Careers sites.


ResumeGenie™ is a resume content management system for job seekers, consultants, contractors and executives – anyone who needs to develop and maintain an Online Career Brand.

Use our comprehensive methodology for developing a resume, bio and social media profiles required in a robust Online

Career Brand.  If you are looking for a job, ResumeGenie™ is the perfect tool for you.

About The Career Launcher

After spending years managing Talent Acquisition for Fortune 500 companies, The Career Launcher created the CareerRx™ program along with ResumeGenie™ for resume optimization. In CareerRx™, she reveals how recruiting and job search has been transformed by recruiting technology.

With over 20 years of hands on direct recruitment experience, The Career Launcher demystifies the online job application process and offers job seekers a comprehensive program to jump start their job searches. She provides an insider’s perspective to what companies are seeking from candidates in the interview process including applicant tracking systems, social media, LinkedIn Recruiter, and how we must change our definition of “job search” to launch and continuously promote an Online Career Brand.

It’s time for you to go beyond the resume.  When it comes to your career, you can’t sit on the sidelines in social media revolution.  Don’t be part of the 98% whose online job applications are rejected.

Adams, Susan. (January 24,2012). How to make the respond when you aply for a job online. Forbes. Retrieved from: