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“400” people apply to every online job posting: 3 ways you can rise above them

4-minute read

Job Search Advice

Applying to jobs has never been easier. Find job online, upload resume and cover letter, repeat. Find, upload, repeat… repeat… repeat.

With the lack of effort required to submit a job application, it's not surprising that every study about the job market seems to reveal that an average of 400 people (or another intimidatingly high number) apply to each online job posting and that getting an interview is about as hard as getting into Hogwarts. In my hiring and recruiting experience, I have certainly have seen huge numbers of applicants for particular jobs; however, the numbers do not tell the whole story…  

What these statistics don’t capture is that the majority of these applications are, to put it delicately… "Weak Sauce". I know it sounds harsh, but most applications are straight-up incomplete. Those that are complete are typically generic. An “I’m scared-for-the-future-of-civilization-ily” large percentage of job seekers are simply trying to apply to as many jobs as possible, seemingly without the intention of ever getting one.

Because it is so easy to submit an application (a couple clicks and “voila”, right?) most applicants don't put in the requisite effort to get real consideration from a hiring manager. Their applications aren't being read and it's like they never applied in the first place. So rather than competing against 400 over-achieving Hermoine Grangers, the "real" applicant pool is more likely around 20-40. Seems a lot more doable now doesn't it?

So please don’t be intimidated when you hear those daunting numbers about how many people apply to every job online. The people publishing those statistics are just trying to scare you. But you are awesome! And when you’re really interested in an opportunity, you will put in the work and get yourself into the upper tier of candidates!


So, how do I rise above?

It might take a bit more time to apply to each job, but if you apply these steps, it won't take nearly as long to land something great!

  1. Target your resume: Comb the job posting for key words pertaining to the duties you'll be fulfilling and be sure to include each of those 2-3 times in your resume. Also, make sure the most relevant work you've done is featured prominently!

  2. Write a customized cover letter: Include why you'd like to do this job specifically and why you'd like to work at this company. Make them feel special (they better be special if you’re going to spend 40 hours per week there). Let them know you applied to this job for a reason!

  3. Look for additional requirements: Some applications will ask for a sample of your work, an answer to a short essay question, or even a transcript verifying your education. Missing these requirements is a one-way ticket to the “No” pile.

If you're serious about the job to which you are applying, I know you're will put as much care and effort into your application as you would on the job itself! If you do, the hiring manager will notice and you'll rise to the top of the pile :)

Phone Interviews: Avoid these Critical Errors

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Welcome to Greg Langstaff Job Search Mini-Blogs, where I give you a quick burst of awesome advice so you can get what you need and go continue being your awesome self.


Normally it's more productive to talk about what to do rather than what not to do, but I've conducted 100’s of phone interviews over the years and there have been some atrocious mistakes, so I'm taking a hard stance on this one.


  1. Don't do the phone interview in public
  2. Don't do the phone interview while driving
  3. Don't do the phone interview in a place where you will be interrupted or external noises could be heard through the phone
  4. Don't do the phone interview in a place with questionable reception

Make sure you are in a quiet, private, secure place, preferably over a landline or in a place with reliable reception.


  1. Don't do the phone interview lying down or slouching
  2. Don't pace back-and-forth rapidly (or at all if you can handle it)
  3. Don't be an expressionless robot who feels no joy and has a monotone voice
  4. Don't interrupt the interviewer(s)

Sit or stand in a comfortable position where you can move occasionally to stay comfortable but your posture does not impede your voice. You want your posture to inspire professional behavior.

Be sure to smile and insert some excitement into your voice. They can't see your enthusiasm, so they'll have to hear it in your voice.

Now the “Do’s”

  1. Do have your notes on the job description and your resume out for you to reference
  2. Do write yourself fun motivational notes and reminders like, “Smile!”, or “Blow their minds!”, or “Death to my enemies” to keep your spirits up during the interview

Phone interviews are a great way to make a first impression and set yourself up for a great next interview. Prepare appropriately and you'll do a great job!

Need help prepping for your phone interview? Reach out and I'll make sure you are completely prepared!