Karen Bolda: The trials of job hunting
Many employers are now requesting that resumes be submitted through an online process. This is especially true for state and federal government positions (found at www.usajobs.gov.)
An online resume is a very different process than the more traditional hard copy resume. First of all, the first "person" looking at this resume is probably not a person at all; it is a computer. That means that time spent trying to format the resume just so, or using clever phrases to demonstrate your writing skills is time wasted.
The first screening of your online resume will be to sift out the applicants that aren't qualified. The only way that a computer can do this is by using key words that have been pre-selected by the employer.
Luckily, finding what key words to use for your online resume is easy. They will be right there in the online job description. Click on the tabs titled "qualifications and evaluations" and "duties" and look for descriptions that are job specific.
For example, a current opening here in Ashland for a biological technician describes duties of "collecting ancillary data," and recording "tablet PCs data." It is important to use the exact same word, not one that means the same thing, or the one that really would be a better description.
Unfortunately for you, this means that you need to create a unique resume using the appropriate key words for every job you apply for. This can be a time-consuming process, so be sure to allow yourself several days for each online application.
I want to reiterate the importance of making a personal connection by calling the number they give to ask questions. Although the first person to screen your resume is a computer, after that there are actual people looking at it, and you want them to have some idea of who you are to increase your chances of being selected for an interview.