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Eight simple steps to boost online job search
 Career Advice



Applying for a job online can seem as simple as a few click of your mouse. But when hundred of applicants are vying for the same job online, your chances of getting a good look from the hiring manager drop.

Is it even possible to find a job online from one of the many job search engines out there? Yes, the experts say.

But you must be savvy in how you respond and craft your resume and cover letter for the organization.

Use these eight tips for success in your online job search from our panel of three career experts: Trudy Bourgeois, a career and workplace coach and author of "Her Corner Office: A Guide to Help Women Find a Place and a Voice in Corporate America"; Moritza E. Day, president of Day West & Associates, Inc. and co-author of "1000 Best Job Hunting Secrets"; and Kevin Donlin, president of Guaranteed Resumes and author of "51 Ways to Find a Job Fast -- Guaranteed!"

1. Boost your chances. Hundreds of job seekers are using the big job boards, like CareerBuilder, to find and apply for jobs. Those large job boards can be ideal for leads, but niche job postings may suit your industry better. Check out the boards specific to your industry because there are typically fewer applicants -- and potentially less competition -- to those job postings.

2. Find the name beyond the ad. Don't just send your resume into the abyss. Look for a name. Call the person on the ad and confirm they've gotten your resume within three days. Make a personal connection with that hiring manager and communicate what you can do for the company.

If the job posting does not list a name, do some research on the company Web site and find out who handles the human resources or the department that is hiring. Call that person and talk about the opening. Use caution so that you don't become an unwanted job stalker.

3. Use keywords. Employers often use buzzwords to determine whether an applicant matches what they are seeking. If your resume or cover letter does not contain those key phrases, your chances could land in the trash.

Read the ad and ascertain whether you have the skills the company is seeking. Don't embellish your resume, but use industry terms to define your skills. For example, a sales representative and account executive may be the same. Try listing just those relevant keywords in a section at the end of your resume.

4. Tailor your resume and cover letter. It may seem obvious, but many candidates do not take the time to do so. If you properly research the company, you will have a better idea of what kind of candidate they value. In turn, you'll be able to explain why you want to work for them and how you'll add to their team.

Read about the company online; read the CEO's letter and company goals. Make your cover letter and resume reflect the skills you have that would make you the ideal hire. Point out what makes you special to stand out from the others, and present yourself as the solutions.

5. Always include your resume as a text file. If you are responding to a job in an e-mail, include a text version of your resume following your cover letter. You also may attach the formatted version of your resume, but some attachments are automatically deleted.

By including a text version in the body of an e-mail, your resume is sure to be seen. Send your resume to yourself in an e-mail before you apply online for a job. That way you'll know just exactly what it looks like in the human resources department inbox.

6. Make your resume readable. You won't win a prize for the most words in a resume. Long paragraphs can be hard to read and a company doesn't care necessarily care about your "personal objectives."

Cut out the superfluous distractions. Instead, use bullets starting to highlight your professional accomplishments. Start each sentence with action verbs. Use specifics that show your skills in quantitative terms.

7. Spend your time wisely. The majority of jobs are found through networking, not the job boards. You should use these job boards in your search as a source, but not as your primary job search means. But if you're spending all your time searching online - and not using your network - reallocate your time appropriately. Get back on the phone and start talking to contacts about your job search.

8. Use your network to research online postings. It's not enough to just apply for the job online. Call your network and try to find someone at the company you're applying for. A good reference from an insider, or a phone call on your behalf, could mean the difference between the trash and an interview.

Elizabeth McKinley is a freelance journalist who writes about careers and workplace issues. E-mail her at