It can be discouraging to send an online application into the dark hole of the Internet; however, a lot of jobs are filled this way. In addition, a lot of companies require you to apply online even if you have an "in." The idea that your resume and cover letter are getting sent into cyberspace can be intimidating, but keep in mind you can always follow up on an online application. Here are a few tips and tricks that can help you master the online application:
Use "key words" from the job description in your cover letter. A lot of databases will pull these from the information you submit, and put your info on top of the internet "stack."
Check your spelling and grammar. Again, seems simple, but you would be surprised the amount of people who rush through online applications because they can be very long and well, boring!
Read the instructions. A lot of companies will ask for certain formats when it comes to your resume and cover letter; do not think you can submit whatever you have available, read the requirements and modify your documents to comply with their requirements.
Make sure you are actually qualified for the job you are applying for. It is important to fully read a job description, if the job calls for experience in a certain software program, and you do not have it... don't lie about it. In this type of scenario -- highlight that fact that you are a quick learner.
Be thorough and accurate; essentially do not lie on your resume or cover letter. A lot of companies do thorough background checks on your past experience, so make sure dates and titles are accurate. Find ways to highlight the things you have done instead of worrying about the things you haven't.
Save your confirmation emails from online submissions. If you are applying for numerous positions, it is good to keep track of everything you have already submitted. Create a folder in your email so you can reference it if you get a call for an interview.
Figure out who your cover letter should be addressed to. Do research to figure out who the hiring manager is for the role (or if it is simply Human Resources), and be sure to address your cover letter to this person. Writing "to whom it may concern" shows you did not look into the role. A lot of times there is a note on the job posting who is hiring the position, so pay attention to detail.
Lastly, do not copy your resume into a cover letter; your cover letter is meant to elaborate on past experience. Make sure your objective is clear, and you tailor each cover letter submission to the job you are applying for. Use your cover letter to explain something that was on your resume. For example, if your resume states you were in charge of social media, use your cover letter to highlight any percent increases you helped them gain, special projects you led, etc.