Survival guide to online job search: practical tips

Ben Farrell


The Internet and technology have made searching for jobs easier than ever. Long gone are the days of scanning and turning crisp newspaper pages, circling relevant opportunities in red pen. Now you can search for jobs easily by skills, location, salary and more. However, this ease of access to potential employers has also created more competition, making it harder to stand out from the crowd.

Having so many options available to you can also be daunting. However, don’t fear! Just follow these tips to ensure a successful job hunt.

Understand the transference of skills

A lot of job seekers get put off applying for positions when employers list specific skills. Most people think “well, I haven’t done exactly that”. However, what people fail to realise is the transferability of skills and how your experiences in life equip you with skills that can be applied across multiple industries.

For example, you may be ex-military transferring to the private sector for the first time. This can be an intimidating and confusing experience as it’s difficult to give examples of how you’ve improved a team’s performance in a call centre environment for example. So, the key here is to ask yourself, ‘why is the employer asking this?’ In the above example, you can conclude that the employer wants examples of you improving a team’s performance because they want to know if you can motivate people. Once you peel it back to the core objective then you can sell your skills.

You may want to give examples of how you lead teams in military operations and how you motivated individuals to push through and get the job done. As long as you can answer the question ‘can you motivate people?’ then, specific industry-relevant scenarios aren’t as important.

Link back to position relevance

The key thing to remember here is that not all employers understand the transference of skills and while they may understand that you can lead people, they may want something more granular that they can relate to. So, a key tip here is to link your experience back to how you would use it in the role you’re applying for. This is where your cover letter comes in.

The crucial first impression: cover letter

Most online job sites allow you to upload your resume as well as a cover letter. The cover letter is the most important element of your application. This is where you pitch to your potential employer why you feel you’re the best candidate. Use this opportunity to sell your transference of skills. For example, I plan to draw my 15 years of military leadership in high-pressure environments (skills) to mentor, motivate and inspire people to achieve their targets and keep focused in stressful customer situations (link to position relevance).

Your story: the resume

As we’ve discussed, the cover letter is the most important first impression. Yet, your resume tells the full story. One thing you need to be sure of is to keep your resume concise. An easy way to do this is to make different versions depending on the type of role you’re applying for. I’m not suggesting embellishing details or even exaggerating. What I’m talking about is calling out only key achievements that are relevant to the position. For example, for a sales role you might call out how you boosted revenue and cut costs. Whereas for a project management role you might call out how you delivered complex projects on time and under budget. For a technical role, you might give examples of your aptitude for issue isolation and problem solving. Then save each version in different folders on your PC and only attach the relevant tailored CV that matches the position.

Yes, job hunting is now easier, but like anything that becomes accessible, it also becomes competitive. So, make sure you write a killer cover letter, remember the transference of skills, link back to relevance and use tailored CVs that highlight experience relevant to each position. Good luck!