Applying Online Won’t Get You a Dream Job: Here’s What You Should Be Doing Instead


Alternatively, this post could be called “Your job search has a four percent chance of success: Wake up and do this instead”

Four percent.

That’s the chances of an online application reaching and a human being.


Applicants get cut out because of their resume format. Applicants get cut out because of typos and formatting errors. Applicants get cut out because there are too many applicants to even bother giving each of them a once over!!
Somehow, society has told us that applying online to job postings is the best way to get the job you want, and yet 4 percent is not the kind of odds that I would call a return for the time you invest submitting them.

Let’s take a step back to analyze how that could be.

When you want a new job, what do you do? Probably, the exact same thing everyone from senior VP’s at Fortune 500 companies to assistant accountants at places you’ve never heard of are doing. They have a friend with a little better education or career success look at their resume, then making their way over to XYZ career website, see what openings are available, and submit their resume to a few jobs that sound like the right fit over a glass of wine after work. If there’s one they particularly like, maybe they’ll put some extra customized polish on their resume and spend another few hours drafting up a cover letter. Either way, after hitting submit it turns into a great big waiting game.


You might hold on to a fairy-tail notion that the company is looking at each of these resumes and carefully hand-picking applicants to come in for an interview, but you’re WRONG.

Think again.

On average, a newly open role at a well-known company gets ~250 resumes in the first week that it’s posted online. 75% of those resumes originate from the company’s careers page, a job posting aggregator like, or if they like to waste money, it’ll be posted on Linkedin. Once submitted, these applications are screened by Applicant Tracking Software that scans them for predetermined keywords. At the end of the process, ~10 resumes (4%) make it into the hands of a recruiter.

Sounds pretty bad right? That’s not the end of it.

Parental advice checking in.

It’s almost a trope among job seekers to hear “ 80% of all jobs are never posted anywhere.” But it turns out, there is a great deal of accuracy to that number. According to the career compensation site, Payscale, it’s true that almost 80% of job openings aren’t posted online. Instead of being posted online, the majority of open roles are filled through networking, the company’s internal careers page, staffing firms, etc. Posting an open role online is often the last resort, or WORSE, its mandated that the job be online for X number of days, but they already have someone in mind for the position.

If you break that all down, it means that 75% of people applying for jobs are all competing for 20% of the available positions!
What does that do to your current strategy for making the next big career move?

If you’re only applying for jobs online, you’re getting lost in a churning sea of applicants with little hope of differentiating yourself without altering your trajectory from the masses.

So if everything you know is wrong, what do you do?

Taking A New Approach

The key to landing your dream job in today’s market is leveraging a laser-focused networking approach.

Forget networking events and happy hours, that’s for mediocre applicants with out any creativity. Networking events trade nominal fees in exchange for the empty hope of a good conversation and a couple of drink tickets. You’re smarter than to take that foolish bait. Remember, you’re separating from the herd.

Your goal needs to be to solely focus on one or two individuals who influence the hiring decision for your dream role. The place you’d immediately call all your friends to celebrate if you got a job offer from them.

Quick side note, we cover this program in greater detail in the Get Your Dream Job In 14 Days Package. Be sure to download it from the homepage. But, for now, we’ll focus on three main steps to success:

Step 1: Identify Influencers
If we want a job on Google’s Account Management team that concentrates on the Financial Services vertical, who better to know than someone currently working on that team (better yet, managing the team).
Finding these people is simple. All you need to do is head over to LinkedIn and search using this formula:
Company Name + Job Title
Using our example above we would search for: Google Account Manager Financial Services
If you’re set on a particular location, feel free to add it at the end of the search:
Google Account Manager Financial Services New York
Once you’ve identified a few people that seem like a good fit. I use to find their email address and reach out to set up a meeting.

Step 2: Uncover Challenges
Companies hire for one reason — they are willing to pay someone to perform a function that will substantially increase the amount of revenue they bring in.
When you Speak to with the contact you discovered, be it over the phone, in person, your goal, or as a last resort – email, it is to uncover their largest revenue blocker. Get as much information as you possibly can.
All you need to do is ask: what is the biggest challenge your team is currently facing?
Seriously. Ask, and I promise that more often than not, they’ll tell you!
Follow up by a few probing questions:
How did this problem arise in the first place?
What limitations are holding you back from solving it?
What solutions have you tried to implement?

Step 3: Solve Their Problem
Once you’ve gathered your intel, it’s time to research. Find out as much as you can about their problem.

For some companies, the problem may be public (e.g. Twitter’s inability to monetize). If that’s the case, your best resource for finding potential solutions will be places where smart people gather online to discuss these types of problems. My two recommendations are Quora and Seeking Alpha.

Quorans love discussing businesses and finding solutions. Writers on Seeking Alpha are typically financially invested in the company, so they spend their waking hours researching it. Save yourself some time by leveraging their work.
If the problem exists on a smaller scale, try to find connections that work in a similar setting. Run the problem by them and see what their company is doing to address it.

The end goal here is to consolidate your findings into 2–3 plausible solutions. Once you have them prepared, present them back to your contact.

If your solutions are on point, your contact will share them with the greater team, and likely be connected back to you. Any feedback will typically lead to them reaching out to you saying, “Those solutions you provided were fantastic. You know, we have an open role on our team. Is that something you might be interested in?

Even if your work doesn’t lead directly to a job offer, you will have opened up a dialogue with a company you 100% want to work for. Imagine, you just cut through so much red tape from HR, and set yourself apart from any number of other candidates that are trying to work for this company the lazy way – applying on a website.

Active involvement with the companies you want to work for is an innumerable advantage over others ascribing to the traditional way of applying. Further more, I’m certain this form of pursuing a company will lead to more job offers and d better opportunities than throwing your resume down the dark hole that is a corporation’s job application portal.


That’s a sure fire way to stand out to the companies you’re excited about working for. What to do you think? Be sure to leave a comment, and tell us about techniques you use to get around the nightmare of applying to jobs online.

Comments 3

  1. This goes with my first post (I wasn’t done and I pushed send too soon)…

    Although it becomes it becomes instantly marketable, who knows where it’s going and who’s desk it’s coming across and like your blog states that’s the problem. I’m a government contractor and I can honestly say that every job that I’ve had has been through the people that I know. It’s word of mouth and knowing the right person to get you in the door. Your resume will go straight to the top, and you’ll be sure to land that job. So although the mighty web boasts its advantages daily, in the career world it’s as simple as the company you keep.

    1. Post

      Thanks for your comment Iliana. At Von Dier Career Cartography, we love to help those professionals who maybe don’t have the skills or depth in their network like you do. You’re right, in the federal jobs space especially, a person’s own network is where they’re going to find the next step in their career. USAJobs is the absolute worst place to apply for a role.

  2. Nice Post. I know that in today’s job market everything as we know it is in the web including your next career choice. All I can say is it’s an advantage to getting that dream job we all may be striving for or want. Your skills and resume become instantly marketable.

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