Career Center

Applying Online: Getting Past The Blockade

Looking online for a job can be frustrating. Unlike the usual speed and ease of doing things online, finding a job electronically often involves submitting a resume and then waiting. And you aren’t the only one.

“I feel like my resume just goes into an abyss.  I’ve submitted my resume to jobs that match me perfectly and hear zilch.”

The following quote comes from “Out of service? Online hiring systems frustrate applicants,” an article by Lorraine Mirabella of The Baltimore Sun.

And as annoying as it is, the problem is unlikely to go away anytime soon. While applying online is frustrating for the employee, finding a good employee is equally frustrating for the employer. Hyrell is a company that makes some of these online hiring systems. Here is one of their ads.

The basic problem?

  • Companies have too many applicants.
  • They buy software to weed out bad choices.
  • The software works on a bad-out, good-in system.
  • Companies are too rigid in their criteria.
  • The only people who get through are perfect matches.

So ultimately, you have two choices. Be a perfect match, or get around the system somehow. Dr. Dickey, Professor of Behavioral Sciences, has several suggestions. Another thing to think about is the focus on qualifications versus appeal.  Since you have to choose at least one of the two strategies, pick one that will be your focus.


  • Ask a friend in the field what the specific code words are that employers look for.
  • Research the code words for jobs using Google, Wikipedia, and AnswersYahoo.
  • Make sure you have these certifications and if you are missing any, get them.
  • Save the job descriptions for jobs you didn’t get and look at their code words.
  • Get a wide variety of certifications so that you will have the match for any job.


  • Use personal connections to get in touch with the company.
  • Use websites like LinkedIn and Hiring Agencies.
  • Apply to smaller companies, like startups, where initiative matters more.
  • Apply to other jobs that you qualify for at the same company. You may get hired, and then transferred.

Ultimately, looking for a job in the current system is a pain. Much like the spoils system of the late 1800’s, most jobs are handed out either as personal favors, or because of obvious qualifications. As a job seeker, there is little you can do but play the system and do your part, when you have the opportunity, to correct it.  If you are frustrated, at least know that you aren’t alone.