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How To Apply For A Job Online

By Tara Weiss,, October 31, 2006

Back in the day, getting your job application noticed used to mean drafting a crisp cover letter and resume on 24-pound, watermarked linen paper. But rising to the top of the pile is a bit different for the Monster and HotJobs generation.

With job applications now more likely to be filled out online, it's trickier to get attention when you're filling out a form on a Web site. To stand out from the crowd, you'll have to get into the mindset of a recruiter and work the online system.

The human resources department of a typical large company may receive hundreds of applications for each job it posts. To sort through them all, companies search keywords and use filtering software. To make sure you aren't filtered out, adjust your resume to mimic the language in the company's job listing. If the job description uses the words "accounts payable," "accounts receivable" and "general ledger," make sure those phrases are tailored into your resume.

"The employer's whole goal is to drill down to the least amount of candidates possible," says Kathy Sweeney, president of the National Resume Writer's Association. "It's not an inclusion factor--it's an exclusion factor that employers are going after."

Jenny Sullivan, a spokeswoman, suggests the following phrases: problem-solving and decision-making; performance and productivity improvement; oral and written communications; team-building; leadership; project management; customer retention; Internet; and strategic planning.

Monster Worldwide (nasdaq: MNST - news - people ) also provided with popular search terms used by recruiters within five categories over the past 90 days. Within advertising, recruiters are looking for resumes that include: marketing and advertising experience, public relations, media planner, account executive and sales. Within engineering: civil, mechanical, structural and electrical engineers, as well as AutoCAD and HVAC skills. Within consulting: SAP (nyse: SAP - news - people ), J2EE (Java 2 Express Edition), Essbase, Kronos, Oracle (nasdaq: ORCL - news - people ), and Peoplesoft. Within accounting: CPAs, staff accountants, accounts payable and tax skills. Within journalism: creative, online, broadcast, interactive and corporate journalism.

If you're e-mailing or uploading your resume, keep it simple. Online applications often call for candidates to upload their resume to a company's Web site, and ornate fonts and bullets get lost in translation. Another tip: If you're cutting and pasting your resume from a Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) Word document to an online form, create it in Rich Text Format or with .txt after the name. (Do that while "saving as.") That will keep your formatting from being garbled. However, if you're sending it as an attachment, there's no need to save it differently.

Other tips: Recruiters receive hundreds of resumes per week, with many named "resume.doc." Make it easy for them to find you by adding your name to the resume file. Also, if you're e-mailing your resume, paste it in body of the e-mail in addition to attaching it. If you have technical problems, don't give up. The job boards all have customer service numbers that you should contact. Call them even if they take you to the actual company's Web site.

If you've posted your resume on a board like or Yahoo! (nasdaq: YHOO - news - people ) Hot Jobs, Sweeney recommends refreshing it every 90 days, since employers tend not to look at resumes posted longer ago than that--they wonder why the candidate hasn't been able to secure a new job. There's no need to make drastic changes--just tweak something and re-save it.

Of course, one thing about resumes hasn't changed: spelling errors. Don't make any.

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