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How to Nail Your Online Job Application and Beat Out The Competition

No doubt about it, landing a work at home job goes far beyond paying the bills. It means you can have a working lifestyle that suits your needs. It’s what every aspiring work-at-homer dreams of.

The truth is, there are a ton of ways to work from home. We should know, we here at The Wary Worker cover a variety of jobs: the easy ways to make quick money, non-phone jobs that can be done remotely and even lucrative jobs with top companies.

But finding the work is the easy part (especially when you visit blogs like this one).

Getting the job…well, that’s another story.

So maybe you found the perfect job on one of the online job boards. Or maybe you discovered a job through one of the work at home blogs that you just KNOW you”ll get. You click the job link, find the online application, and fill in the blanks.

And as you patiently await the coveted email saying “You’re Hired”, your inbox becomes overwhelmed with rejections. Your dream is dashed and you’re just about to throw in the towel.

But let me tell you, you can beat out the competition and land that work at home job you want.


By nailing the online job application.  Here’s how.

online job application tips

The Scoop on the Online Job Application

Now that so many companies expect you to apply for a job online, it means you really have to stand out. Especially for a remote job. Gone are the days of printing your resume on colored paper to grasp the attention of the hiring manager. These days, you might go through a multi-part application process or simply attach your resume in a company’s online form.  And, depending on the company, a resume may not even be needed.

An Online Application Has 3 Main Sections

An online job application consists of three sections: Header, Applicant Profile, and Position Specific Questions.

The Header section typically contains:

  • The company name, logo, address and phone number
  • Possibly, an option to apply via Linkedin
  • Often, instructions for completing the application


The Applicant Profile section may contain:

  • Areas for your name, address, phone number
  • Often, the option to enter your social profiles (Facebook, Twitter…)
  • Areas to either enter or attach your education, experience cover letter and resume
  • Possibly, questions regarding your ability to work in the USA


The Position Specific Questions section may contain:

  • Essay question(s) why you are the right person for the job
  • Essay question(s) how your experience can help the company
  • An opportunity for you to enter anything else that may help you get the job


I pulled up the application for a Customer Success Manager job for the company Help Scout. It’s a pretty typical one, with the 3 main sections of Company Header, Personal Profile, and Position Specifics.  But did you notice how they have a few fill-in-the-box questions at the bottom? This is where you amp-up your bragging skills and tell them how you successfully added to the benefit of you past employers.

(click image to see full version)

Online job application for Customer Service job wih Help Scout

And here’s the application to be an Online Image Reviewer with Shutterstock. This is a shorter, to-the-point application with no additional areas to brag about your accomplishments. Don’t worry, though. You can do that – and you should – in your resume and cover letter.

Shutterstock application


Be Serious About Applying For The Right Job

You might be tempted to apply for any and all jobs that interest you. And by all means, if you think you have what it takes to do the work, go for it.

But if you’re serious about getting the right work at home job, you need to be serious about applying for the job.

Here’s how to do it:

Get to Know the Company

You might think a job description tells you all you need to know about a company.  But the truth is, you can pick up some important details that will help you get the job.  Get to know the company’s history, product line, and anything else you can read about them.  This will give you a much better idea of the person they are looking to hire.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Read through the company’s website.
  • Check them out on Facebook.
  • Read through their Tweets.
  • You can check to see if there are any online complaints about the company by doing a Google search, like: “Company XYZ review” 0r “Company XYZ scam”.


Read and Understand the Job

Reading through the entire job description is the first thing you need to do to kick the competition out of the game. You have to understand what the job entails and be sure you have the skills to do the work. If the primary role is to assist customers with their social networking, make sure you know A LOT about social networks. If you’re applying for a customer service job where you are expected to be bilingual, make sure you speak the languages they want.


Follow The Directions.  Exactly.

This is not the time to speed read.  Take another look at the above application for Help Scout. They tell you exactly how to fill out parts of the application; they want you to be specific, yet brief, when answering at least one of the questions. Not following their instructions is a surefire way to get your application tossed in the delete bucket.

It’s not unusual for a company to have applicants type in a certain word or phrase somewhere during the application process.  And I even came across one company that had their applicants proofread the job description and tell them of the errors.

Get to Know The “Feel” of the Company

It won’t take long to “feel” the tone of the company when you read through the job description. Is there a humorous vibe or Does it read like a chapter straight out of the legal books?

Why is this important?  You can match their tone and bring personality into your application.  Go with the flow…do as they do but don’t loose too much of your own personality.

Give Them the Work At Home Vibe

Does your resume say you are remote friendly?  You want to show that you have the ability to stay focused and actually do the work you are being paid for.

You can do this by:

  • Having some work at home experience in your background
    How? By doing some small tasks jobs or freelance work.
  • Having an online presence
    How? Are you on Facebook and Twitter? Are you active on any blogs or forums?  If not, do it.
  • Having a working knowledge of online tools.
    How? Do you know how to use Buffer? What about Facetime?  Familiar with Google Docs and cloud storage applications?

Match Your Resume to the Job

Have you seen that commercial from Zip Recruiter where one guy says “I’m spending half my day reading resumes…”?

It’s true, it’s a real time suck for Hiring Managers.

And, as a former HR Generalist, I feel his pain.

But – and I’m not saying this to make life easier for the Human Resource people out there – you can streamline the whole process with a simple little tweak to your resume.

Make your resume match the job by sticking in the right keywords so it gets through the resume tracking software.

How? Customize your resume for each job you are applying for. The job description will give you clues as to which keywords to use.

So let’s say you find a job for a remote Social Media Marketer. Great ! Some of the specific requirements and duties may include:

  • You’re a trade show maven
  • You’re big into brand recognition
  • You’re up on all the social media platforms, including blogging
  • You have at least 4 years digital marketing experience, and
  • You’re an analytic junkie

You can whip up your resume like this one.  Notice how some of the keywords from the Social Media Marker job requirements are included?

sample resume with job keywords


Make Them Want To Say Yes

Once a work at home job becomes available, companies are overwhelmed with applicants. Because of that, they want to know a little about you before they scan through your resume. When filling out the online job application, you want to tell them how you can help them and why – being specific without being too wordy. You want them to know they can hire you NOW and you’re ready to get started. This may go without saying but this is not the time to talk salary…that’ll come after they express their interest in you.


Like I said, finding the job is the easy part. Getting it takes a little patience and perseverance. But when you know what it takes to beat out the thousands of others, you can increase your odds of getting that work at home job that you deserve.

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