How not to apply for a job online


Have you ever submitted a fabulous resume and cover letter for a job you felt perfectly suited for … then heard nothing from the employer?

There are the usual reasons your phone may not ring or your email may not chirp the company was restructured, the current job-holder decided to stay, the boss’s nephew got the job. But if you find yourself not making it to the interview on a regular basis, you may be making some common mistakes that relegate resumes to the trash.

These days many companies prefer to receive applications electronically. If you’re applying for jobs online you’ll find an abundance of articles about how to format a resume, so we’ll focus on some don’ts. To begin here’s a scenario similar to what HR departments see every day:

“Hey, we’ve got a great candidate for customer service here. The only problem is her email address.” You check it out and see she’s sent her application from It certainly conjures up an image, but not one usually associated with friendly, efficient customer service.

Whether it’s the candidate for a management position who lists his email address as or the applicant for almost any position who writes from, an email address can and will be held against you if it conveys an image contrary to what a company is looking for.

Here are a few other don’ts to keep in mind the next time you apply online:

Don’t submit your resume as an email attachment unless the employer requests it. Email attachments from strangers (or friends who haven’t kept their computer systems up-to-date) are more likely to contain viruses than the resumes, love letters or photos of Anna Kournikova promised in the subject line. Instead, send your resume in the body of an email.

Speaking of subject lines, don’t leave yours blank. If the job ad doesn’t say what to put in the subject line, use the job title with “Experienced” in front of it (e.g. Experienced Brain Surgeon).

Don’t ignore instructions. For example, if the employer asks you to fill out an online form … actually fill it out. Don’t paste your entire resume into the first box on the form then say “see above” in the boxes that follow. The employer may be looking for specific things in each part of the form.

Don’t trust the spell check to catch typos — and don’t always trust yourself either! One applicant who applied to said “As I would very much like to develop a relationship with Fabio, I am willing to be flexible…”

Finally, don’t do anything you wouldn’t do with a paper resume and cover letter. Next time you apply online we hope you make such a great impression you end up with that corner office the boss’s nephew wanted.