Many of us appreciate the ease of applying for a new job via the internet. According to a recent American study, the Web is now home to 100,000 job-related sites and 2.5 million resumes. The attraction is clear. There's no need to print a resume, find the right address, buy envelopes and stamps, and get to a postbox on time. All it takes is the click of a mouse and in seconds your application is processed. The internet does not recognise holidays, and you can access information at any hour of the day or night. It also offers huge benefits for recruiters and executive search consultants. 'The internet has created an enormous funnel through which to attract and screen many more candidates,' said Dan Chavasse, managing director of Michael Page Hong Kong, adding that the internet also broke down cross-cultural and regional barriers. But perhaps because of the added ease of application, many candidates fail to treat their applications with appropriate care and consideration. They should not be surprised, therefore, when their high volume approach fails to deliver results. Large numbers of poorly presented applications also cause problems for recruiters. 'Sadly, one of the downsides of applying via the internet is that candidates apply for jobs for which they are not suitable, because it is just so easy to do', said Mr Chavasse. 'Some candidates send repeat applications to many different jobs. But they are wasting their time. We track applications, so we know when candidates are sending mass mailouts.' Candidates should apply the same diligence when applying online as they do when sending out an application letter. This includes ensuring they fulfil most of the job requirements, tailoring the application to highlight appropriate attributes and preparing a short cover letter. Candidates should also consider the ideal format for their documents. And resumes designed for posting on a webpage should include as many 'key words' as possible, since applications via webpages are often screened and ranked automatically by applicant-tracking systems. For example, if a company is looking for an auditor with experience in Lotus 1-2-3, Microsoft Excel and Peachtree First Accounting, they might rank resumes according to which ones include knowledge of two or all three programmes. Some job websites also ask you to upload a resume on to the webpage. In this case, an html or ASCII text-only file is usually required. Other organisations prefer a more user-friendly approach. For Michael Page, the personal e-mail approach worked best, said Mr Chavasse. 'We realised that there is a disincentive for candidates to complete lengthy application forms online for no perceivable benefit. Our clients pay us to assess abilities like written communication skills, something you can't assess from responses to a standard form, so we prefer our consultants personally to read each application in detail.' When sending an e-mail, it is most appropriate to use standard word documents. E-mail applicants should also take care to minimise frustration for the recruiter. 'Some applicants send resumes in all sorts of weird formats. You want to make sure the person reading your application has the ability to access the file, so Word or Text is your best bet,' said Mr Chavasse. 'Don't attach photos, as your application is likely to be blocked by firewalls or considered spam.' Despite the high volumes of applications received by recruiters, candidates should expect to receive acknowledgment of their application. Michael Page has established a charter, promising to respond to every application. 'If we only answered 50 per cent of our phone calls, we'd be out of business - why would we treat people any differently because they applied on the internet?' he said. Even with an initial acknowledgment, it is natural for candidates to want to know how their application is progressing. But with the impersonal nature of the internet, some are unsure of how to follow up. 'The human touch is important, so it is okay to call a consultant directly,' said Mr Chavasse, adding that applicants should call only if they were certain they were suitable for the job and had allowed a reasonable time for the recruiter to evaluate their application.