Get a job the on-line way

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The Independent Online
OF THE estimated 6.5 million people in the UK using the internet, a fifth are using it to look for work. Applying for a job via the net is quick, convenient and a tacit claim that you are on the technological ball. Ensuring an on-line job application is successful, however, is more tricky.

"The rapid growth of companies now handling recruitment on-line enables job applicants to be better prepared than ever before," says Karen Skewies, director of on-line recruitment specialists, The Monster Board. However, manyapplicants fall down by failing to understand basic dos and don'ts of effective web communication.

The internet can provide amore interactive communications environment than the written page - some sites let applicants try an on-line simulation of particular aspects of a job.

The up side to internet job hunting for the applicant is the ability to find out about an organisation. You can prepare thoroughly for both application and interview from the comfort of your PC. The down side is underestimating the limitations of the net.

Most jobs advertised on the net invite applicants either to complete an on-line application form or forward their CV electronically. Unlike printed applications, internet forms have almost limitless space for applicants to enter their details. "There's always a danger that you will ramble on. It is important to remain focused on the key points an employer will be looking for," says Ms Skewies.

A growing number of companies use software packages to scan applications, so including the right buzz words is essential. "These programs look for key skills, qualifications or relevant experience. They do so by searching for particular words or phrases," she explains.

For the same reason, on-line applicants should use more nouns than verbs, she advises. While career counsellors once advised applicants to use action words, descriptions such as job titles, technical skills, levels of education or experience are now key persuaders.

This must be balanced against the need to communicate your personality and attitude. Other computer tracking systems identify particular traits, such as responsibility or reliability. Where possible, be original in your language and avoid cliches.

Preparing an on-line CV means you don't have to stick to the one-page- only rule. However, the most interesting CVs are likely to be printed out, so stick to the equivalent of three sides of A4 and put the most important information at the top.

"Another important thing to remember is how you should send the CV," Ms Skewies adds. "Depending on what software the company you are applying to has, your document may or may not arrive in the same font and format you sent it."

Stick to well-known typefaces in a font size of 10 to 14 point, she advises. Ensure the recipient will not have to scroll left to right to read the information you sent. Include any relevant job reference codes in the document's subject line.

If applying by e-mail, cut and paste your CV into the document rather than sending it as a text attachment. Many employers ignore attachments for fear of computer viruses or formats their computers will be unable to translate.

If you do send it as a separate file, check the company's web site for the best format to use. Word, ASCII or HTML should be fine.