Is It Better To Apply for Jobs in Person or Online?

Updated June 24, 2022

It's increasingly common to find, complete and submit job applications online. In some cases, however, applying in person may be the better option because it allows you to meet hiring managers and make a good first impression. While there are no universal rules about whether to apply for jobs in person or online, there are general suggestions you can follow to increase your chances of getting hired. In this article, we examine the advantages of applying for a job in person compared to applying online.

Read more: When To Start Applying for a Job

Should you apply for a job in person?

Applying for a job in person has certain advantages over applying online. While you need to invest more time and effort into in-person applications, the effort is more likely to be rewarded with an interview in some situations. Applying in person:

Makes an impression

The biggest advantage of an in-person application is the opportunity to stand out from other applicants. Especially in jobs with high turnover, if a manager associates an application with a face, they're more likely to give it another glance. By introducing yourself to a hiring manager in person, you'll instantly separate yourself from applications candidates submitted electronically.

Shows ambition and professionalism

Hiring managers often appreciate the ambition required to drop off a resume or fill out a job application in person. Further, applying in person allows you to present yourself as a professional. Dress for the role and bring copies of your resume and references. If appropriate, you can call or email ahead to ask for the best time to come by. Demonstrate your punctuality by arriving early, and ask to meet with a manager or HR representative.

Demonstrates your readiness for the job

Bringing in a completed application is another way to stand out from other applicants. Research the company beforehand and ask for an application to complete at home. Instead of filling out the application when you get to the office, you'll be able to give it to the manager as soon as you walk through the door.

To further stand out, use your limited time with a manager to ask a few informed questions about the company and position. This demonstrates your enthusiasm about the job and eagerness to join their team.

Tends to be the better option for small companies

In larger companies, hiring departments have multiple staffers and may be located in separate buildings across many cities. Finding the right person can be challenging. Smaller companies have fewer staff members. Even if you can't find a manager when you visit a smaller company, administrative assistants and secretaries usually influence hiring decisions. Making a positive impression with them can increase your chance of getting an interview.

Can help speed up the process

Sometimes applying in person can lead to immediate interviews. Jobs in the hospitality and healthcare industries, in particular, have higher than average turnover. As a result, managers are often looking to fill positions on short notice and prefer to do so quickly. So, if you need a job sooner rather than later, applying in person may help.

Should you apply for a job online?

In some situations, applying for a job online is the better choice. This is particularly true as you advance through your career and are looking for long-term positions. Applying online:

Respects the wishes of some employers

Some employers get overwhelmed with too many candidates and explicitly state not to apply in person. Always respect their wishes. This is often true for jobs that require a certification or license.

Allows you to complete more applications

Applying for jobs online is far faster than going to apply in person. In competitive industries, sending targeted resumes to individual employers is a better approach. The more hiring managers who see your application, the more likely you are to get an interview.

Increases your availability to distant jobs

In particular stages of your career, you may consider relocating for work, family or a variety of other reasons. In such cases, it may not be feasible to travel long distances to apply in person. Applying online makes these remote jobs accessible.

Tends to be the better option for larger companies

Large companies have proportionately bigger hiring departments than small companies. Such organizations sort through many different resumes looking for qualifications and experience that suits their needs, and they often don't have time to meet with candidates in person. To maximize your odds, create a custom, scannable resume for each large company you apply to.

Is more common when applying to public sector jobs

Due to the large volume of candidates, most public sector businesses prefer you to apply online. Careers in K-12 schools, universities and the government have online applications specific to the position you're applying for. Applications are often scored electronically and passed along to hiring managers.

Applying for a job in person vs. online

In short, applying in person for a job allows you to demonstrate your professionalism and likability from the moment you arrive. This is especially an advantage in jobs with high turnover rates, such as the food, hospitality, and service industries. Applying in person also has a higher chance of success if you meet a hiring manager, which is more likely in a small company.

Conversely, applying online is far more efficient. You could likely fill out several applications online in the time it takes to apply in person. Applying online also allows you to broaden your search to places you'd consider relocating to.

Keep in mind that these are not exclusive options. You could, for example, call and request to meet with a hiring manager after applying online. Also, if you apply in person, you could send the hiring manager a thank you email with your resume to follow up after your meeting. You could also call or email the human resources department after applying either in person or online to express your interest in the position.

Read more: How To Follow Up on a Job Application

Tips for applying to jobs

No matter which option you choose, or even if you choose both, there are certain things you can do to make a good impression on the hiring manager. Here are some tips to help you during the application process:

Proofread your resume or application

Whether you apply in person or online, you need to submit a highly polished resume or application that is free of typos. Keep formatting and fonts consistent throughout, and pay attention to the little details to ensure everything is accurate.

Be concise

When applying in person, you want to appear respectful and professional. If you have the opportunity to speak to someone, focus on being personable, expressing your interest in the job and asking for the best way to follow up. When the conversation comes to an end, excuse yourself politely and leave. If you apply online, you could try to have the same kind of conversation over the phone by calling the business and asking for the hiring manager.

Be professional

When applying in person, you want to dress for the position you're pursuing. This may mean wearing business casual or more professional attire, depending on the type of role you're applying for and the company's work culture. If possible, call or email ahead to let a manager or administrative assistant know that you would like to come by.

Be respectful of the hiring manager's time

Whether applying in person or online, focus on communicating confidence without being overly assertive. This involves respecting the hiring manager's time. Rather than calling several times a day to check in on your application status, it's best to wait at least 48 hours before following up after applying. You can also reach out to human resources if you don't hear back.

Wait to discuss salary or benefits

No matter how you apply for a job, do your research to find what similar positions pay. However, it's important not to discuss the salary or benefits until they ask you about it in the interview or actually offer you the job. In general, it's best to avoid discussing it when you first apply. In the first impression, it's important to show the company how you can help them rather than ask what they will pay you.


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