The Internet has become an important tool in the job market. Our recent survey of human capital issues facing the real estate industry showed that employers rate it second after referrals as their most important source of candidates. Employers find it a convenient and low-cost way to publicize job opportunities, while job hunters get to see a wider variety of jobs and are able to apply to them relatively easily.

However this convenience comes at a price, because it tempts job hunters into carelessness and a blanket approach to job hunting that ultimately hurts their chances of finding the right position. Job seekers need to remember that the same convenience that enabled them to apply for a particular job probably enabled several hundred other people to apply for it as well. We have seen jobs that attract two to three hundred applications within a month. It is therefore more important than ever to be distinctive. Unfortunately, many people do exactly the opposite. Following is some advice for internet job hunters:

Don’t apply to everything. Some candidates seem to apply to every job they see. It is a shame they don’t think about the impression they make by applying within the same week for a senior financial controller-position and a construction-manager position. The only sure thing is that a recruiter won’t bother to call the candidate back for either.

Read the requirements. If the job posting says that the position requires industrial experience in the Chicago market, don’t apply unless you have it. Obviously, in some situations you may have exceptionally strong qualifications in all of the other areas mentioned in the job posting, but generally if employers say they want a particular type of experience, they mean it.

Make sure your resume addresses the needs of the employer. Because it is so easy to apply to many positions, candidates often try to save time by sending the same resume and other information to every job they are interested in. Remember that everyone else is probably doing this too. It is critical to address the needs of the employer explicitly so that you stand out from the masses.

Write a short covering letter in the body of you email, or in a comments field. It is quicker to read the body of an email than a resume attached to it as a Word file. Make it easy for the recruiter to see why you are qualified for the job by addressing their needs directly in your email–or in the covering note field if your application will be processed through a web site.

If the job posting asks for specific information, provide it. Writing “call me to discuss” is not a good answer to a direct question. Given the volume of applications, job postings may have screening questions that tell the candidate what is important and allow the recruiter to focus on the most relevant candidates. Ignoring these questions is likely to rebound on the candidate.

Make sure your email and resume is grammatically correct and free from typos. While you may ignore capitalization and punctuation when you email your friends, an employer is likely to be unimpressed by this. If you don’t take the trouble to write properly and check your work when you are trying to make a good impression, why would a recruiter think you will take pride in your work once you have the job?

The basics still count. Learn about the company before you make contact. Not only should you do this as part of your own due diligence, but an interest and knowledge in the employer’s business is also likely to give you a head start against candidates who don’t bother.

Nick Brown ([email protected]) is president and COO of SelectLeaders, a recruitment firm focused exclusively on the real estate industry. He is also a managing director of Equinox Partners, a New York City-based executive search firm that also focuses exclusively on real estate.

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