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Staying on Top of the Online Job Application Pile

Tips help job seekers make the most of internet job search

With numerous employers utilizing job search boards, in addition to proprietary company systems as the avenue for searching for employees, job search candidates need to understand how the systems are used by employers.

"Many job search candidates apply online to either job boards or corporate websites, but they really do not understand the technology behind the systems," said Kathy Sweeney, president of The Write Resume, a resume writing and employment coaching firm, based in Phoenix, Arizona. "It is important to understand how employers search and what a candidate can do better to be at the top of the list of potential interviewees."

According to Sweeney, there are two ways that employers can choose to search for candidates on job boards. They can either pay to search for candidates in the job board database or post an advertisement for an open position. While conducting their search, employers can sort resumes received or conduct their search for candidates by geographic region, level of education or requirements of the position.

In addition, when employers pay to only search a database of candidates, they can select an option that only includes candidates who have posted their resume in a certain amount of time, such as the past 30, 60, 90 or 180 days.

Sweeney says the most important aspects from a job candidate's perspective are three-fold, with each being equally important. First, the candidate must have "keywords" in their resume that match the industry in which they are seeking a job. Job boards rank candidates based upon 'relevancy,' meaning that the more terms the job seeker has in their resume that match the key words either posted in the employer ad or used by the employer searching in a particular industry, the higher they will rank in the list of candidates.

"If one candidate has five words on their resume and another candidate has only two words the employer is using in their ad, the individual with more words that match is going to show up higher on the list of resumes which the employer will review," stated Sweeney.

Candidates do not need to have a "keywords" section on their resume, as many of the systems search throughout the entire document and will highlight the words as they appear.

Sweeney warns, however, that the system may only search for present tense words, such as sales, instead of the word sold, so having both terms in the resume will be helpful.

Second, the job seeker must update their resume at least every thirty days in the system. Most employers will only search for candidates who have posted their resumes within the past 90 days, as they assume that a candidate whose resume was posted after that time may have already found another job. Updating the resume by adding a new training session or additional keywords will refresh the resume in the job board system and rank the candidate higher.

"If two candidates have the exact same keywords in their resume that the employer is searching for, the person who has updated their resume most recently will show up first," said Sweeney.

Finally, job seekers also need to understand that some computer systems only read text formats. If candidates are posting their resume into the system with fancy bullets, lines, bold or underlining, it may kick their document out of the system.

Sweeney says converting the resume to an ASCII text format is the best way to ensure that the resume will be compatible with all job search systems.

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