Online Job Applications are a Waste of Time

I’ve been trying to find a different job for a year and a half now, and I’ve finally come to the conclusion that online job applications are a waste of time.

Because I am still employed, my new job search was a part-time effort at best, and predominantly consisted of online job applications. I extensively utilized many online job search engines such as ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and CareerBuilder. And I also paid for the Premium LinkedIn package where you are visible to recruiters and you can see the salaries of the posted jobs.

I also stalked the Career pages of the companies I was interested in working for, and applied directly there whenever I saw a good fit for me.

So in about 18 months, I applied for 172 jobs online. Only received 4 interviews. From the 4 interviews, I received 2 offers but they were too low and I could not accept. And I received 2 rejections.

This is a horrible track record. And I can’t blame it on the pandemic economy because I started this effort almost a year prior to covid closing everything down.

This is also an incredible amount of time invested. Because it’s not as easy as just uploading your resume whenever you apply online. You have to create an account with the company, and re-format your resume to fit their specific formatting which isn’t standardized, and also include a customized cover letter for their specific position and company. I would estimate I spent approximately 30min to an hour on each online job application.

And it was ultimately a huge waste of time for me.

See, I have a former coworker that started his new job search in early December. We have very similar work experiences and histories. His first day at his new job is today.

I asked him about his track record. He said he received 4 job OFFERS within the first couple of weeks of his job search. He applied for ZERO jobs online.

I asked him what he did, and he said he just reached out to all his contacts, basically told them that he was looking for something else, and his contacts brought potential opportunities to him. He only networked. That was it.

Holy cow, I feel so stupid in comparison. Like, has anyone found any success with these online job applications? Or is it all a scam? I mean, alot of these job search sites ask for money for better services and visibility, and I fell for it with LinkedIn. And I got no results from it. I kinda feel like a fool and I want all my time back. 🙁

15 Replies to “Online Job Applications are a Waste of Time”

  1. That’s so disheartening. I lost my job due to a medical condition and after surgery will be starting to look for something. This information makes me nervous

    1. Well definitely don’t be discouraged, you can do this! Just learn from my mistake and don’t put all your eggs in one basket – the online application basket. I now consider it the least effective way to job search, and I will never pay for those services again. I would recommend starting to network as soon as possible, even now if you can. Real people will be your biggest asset. Good luck! 🙂

  2. I know this is a horrible experience, as I have applied to jobs online before on sites like indeed, and haven’t got anywhere. Although when emailing, phoning or turning up somewhere, I have been more successful. I suppose it is because off that small amount of personal contact.

    1. Yes, I will have to change my strategy now for sure. I’ll start trying the emailing, phoning, and in-person too, and hopefully I’ll get much better results! Thank you! 🙂

  3. Don’t worry, you did not do anything wrong. Online applications usually mean mass applications. Everyone in the process is overwhelmed, it’s hard to stick out from the crowd and at the end of the day, somebody else might be willing to do the job for less money than you. Very frustrating. I’m amazed to hear about your friend’s experience though. I will have to try that instead whenever I might be ready to apply again.

    1. Oh I know, I’m so glad I spoke to my former coworker and found out that info! It really changed my whole mindset about the job search process and how I need to make a personal connection instead. Because you are totally correct – there’s no way to stand out with those online job applications. 🙁

  4. You know what it really is about who you know. And making new connections on Linkedin. I have lost track on how many jobs I have applied for and not getting many interviews .

  5. I have found the online job sites a waste of time over the years, all it got me is a shed load of agencies calling me and emails to respond to. I’m not sure I know what works best really, one year I found 2 jobs from direct contact and they didn’t even have jobs up.
    The best thing to do in my view is work on your contacts and your CV.

    1. I’m so glad I posted this bc I’ve been getting alot of confirmation from others that their experience with online job applications was also unsuccessful. I completely agree with you that the success comes from direct contacts instead. Thank you! 🙂

  6. Using linkedin isn’t the best. With Indeed you may have some luck. Your best bet is to go to the page of that specific company. I’ve had the most job offers from doing that.

    Good luck!

    1. I’m definitely not a fan of linkedin anymore for applying for jobs. I might still use them for reaching out to contacts and interacting with posts, but that’s about it. I’ve gone to specific company pages too and have applied there and still no luck for me. I’m glad it worked out better for you! 🙂

  7. That’s so sad. But unfortunately that’s the reality of applying for jobs. I don’t think online applications are scam but it’s very tough and having a good network is so much more helpful and faster!

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