What you say is “post and pray?” It’s applying to jobs online, then putting your feet up and waiting to hear back. Here’s some tough love: Don’t confuse applying for jobs with searching for a job.  Only 20% of all corporate vacancies are filled through listings on job boards… If you apply to a job and do nothing else – it’s a little bit like taking a raffle ticket and then not showing up for the live drawing: In reality, there’s a slim chance you’re going to get a call back – because the interview list is often filled with applicants who’ve taken additional steps to make sure they get full consideration. I’m not telling you not to apply for jobs online – you don’t want to miss out on opportunities. But when you do, you have to lean forward and be proactive so that you can get the call back! Here’s how to do that.

  1. Apply only for job listings that match your skills and experience. If the job description has a laundry list of qualifications (and you can’t imagine the company could possibly find candidates who have 100% of the skills and experiences), apply only if you meet 70% or more of the skills and specifications mentioned in the description.

Why? If your skills don’t line up with the job, you have a slim chance of getting on the interview list – unless you’ve got an inside recommendation for the job from someone who knows you could do the job. Additional tip: Don’t apply for more than two types of jobs with one company. If you apply for jobs in Marketing, Accounting and Customer Service at the same company at the same time – it makes you look like you aren’t focused. If you apply for more than one job, specify what makes you interested – and qualified — for each job in your cover letter.

  1. Use the right words for the job in your resume and cover letter, it’s the equivalent of using “the force” in your job search. As employers review job postings they look for keywords that match up with the job. Use these keywords at the top of your resume – and you have a better chance of getting your job application looked at.

Check out this  5-minute trick to finding the right keywords.

  1. Get personal.

Addressing a cover letter or e-mail to “Dear Sir or Mam” typically fails to impress most employers. Whenever possible, address your job applications to a real person. Quick ways to find one? Use LinkedIn’s Company pages or do a Google search on the “Director of HR” or department at the Company where you are applying. Then use the name in your application materials.

  1. Tag team every job application with a follow-up – even if it feels uncomfortable. Calling and asking someone, “Did you get my application?” can feel like a psychological return to early awkward experiences with dating…but following up is one of the best ways to transform yourself from one of many applicants to a real live person with a voice and an interest in getting to work.

3 Great Ways to Follow Up (Use one or more) I. Like the company on Facebook, then send a message letting them know you’ve applied II.  See if the company has a Twitter account for recruiting, and send a Twitter @reply letting them know you’ve applied and expressing interest in working more. III. Call and follow-up. If you’re shy, do this at night or over the weekend. You can almost always find a general company phone number online, use the company directory to find the right department or person – and leave a short message introducing yourself and letting them know you’ve applied.  (Mess up and need to re-record? Most corporate systems will give you a do-over if you press the * or # key) Bonus points: Mention the top skill or experience you have that aligns closely with the job when you follow up.

  1. Be ready to look the part.

Studies show that up to 90% of recruiters admit to doing online research on job search candidates: you should expect to be Googled. If you are in the job market, know what search results will come up if an employer searches for your name. A great way to make sure your professional interests can be found is to develop a public LinkedIn profile. Create a formal phone message with your first and last name. “Hi, this is _______. I’m not available right now, but leave me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.” Following these five simple steps can help you transition from “post and pray” to the top of the application pile for the jobs listed online. Focusing on jobs that you really want, and are qualified for, will help take the clutter out of your job search and help increase your chances of getting hired. That extra effort may be what’s standing between you and an interview!