The CS Monitor Work and Money section has a good article on using the Web to find a job. Why is this important? Only 5% of new hires are found via newspaper classified ads these days. More than half are found as a direct result of a job being posted on the internet.
Most companies use software to match a resume to a job. Many even have simple surveys on their website that can disqualify you based on your answers. It's a natural response to the flood of resumes that companies now receive thanks to the internet. The article lists five tips for getting your resume read.
1. Keep resume formats simple.
This is the easiest way to get your resume tossed. A font that looks great on paper is unreadable on screen. Add to that some companies still print returns and use a scanner to pick keywords from resumes. Non-standard fonts will cause a scanner to kick out the resume and it will never be entered into the system.
2. Match your resume to the job.
See #1. Tailoring your resume will take all of ten minutes and very likely could be the difference between getting an interview or not. Take the requirements for the position and change your previous experience to highlight how you've met the requirements for the position you are seeking (but be honest). Try to match as many of the requirements listed in the job ad, the more you meet the more likely you are to get an interview.
3. Consider an end run - or not.
This is the big debate. Should you contact a human in order to try and gain an advantage? I would suggest not doing it unless you have a connection in some way. My profession is all about networking, and since I live in a city with a small pool of taxpeople I can usually find someone I know that a tax manager knows. In that case, trying to get a contact might work. If you randomly call a company and ask the receptionist for the hiring manager, you're just as likely to get the janitor as anyone that can actually make a decision.
4. It's still 'who you know.'
5. Always be honest.
This is a good rule no matter what you do, but is moreso in job hunting. In more technical fields, you will be asked about certain requirements listed in the ad to make sure you actually have that knowledge/experience. Almost every has a "probation period" to make sure that you can handle the job once you get there. Getting fired during the probation period will be a red flag to other potential employers, so be careful.