Are online applications and resumes necessary?

Although the unemployment rate remains high and the jobs outlook appears bleak, there are some jobs available. Searching for a job during tough economic times can be challenging. In fact, most employers prefer to find qualified candidates through an online search. Most companies are moving away from soliciting paper applications and résumés and opting to consider only applicants who submit their résumé and application online via the company's website. 
Some may ask, whatever happened to face to face contact with a potential employer? Very few employers ask applicants to apply in person. Now, most employers prefer their first point of contact with prospective applicants and possible employees to be via a résumé and preferably that résumé be submitted on line. 
Although many employers embrace this new concept of recruiting qualified workers, some job applicants question whether submitting an application online is necessary versus applying for an advertised job opening by simply mailing and or faxing a résumé and cover letter. Listed below are some tips to consider when choosing whether to submit a résumé online versus snail mail, fax or e-mail:
Follow directions:  In order to be considered for any job opening, it's imperative that job seekers follow directions set forth by hiring managers. Not following basic instructions could be an indicator that you could be a problem employee. Eventhough, employers may not give a reason for choosing the online  method of recruiting an applicant, they have their reasons. Many companies use online applications as a means to screen applicants and find the best possible match for their advertised position and as a means to store applications and résumés electronically. Storing applications electronically also cuts down on excessive use of paper, printing and storage costs.

Ask questions: If a job seeker isn't familiar with the online job process, ask questions and get some assistance. Also, review the questions, job description and application thoroughly before submitting your information.  Most employers may have software that compares your résumés to the advertised position. This software could decide whether you are a viable candidate for that particular advertised position based on certain key words listed in your resume and the advertised job description. 
Skill build. If you are not comfortable with computers, now is a good time to learn. Enroll in a computer class. Most public libraries, community colleges and community programs offer basic computer classes free of charge or you may pay a nominal fee. In fact,  the state of Alabama has joined forces with Microsoft Elevate America program to provide vouchers for online technology training and certification to individuals across the state at no cost. Alabamians ages 16 and older are eligible to receive the vouchers which are available on a first-come, first-served basis through the Alabama Career Center System until August 13.
To obtain a voucher, an individual must be registered on Alabama Job Link (AJL). Anyone who is not registered may do so on-line from any computer at  or by going visit the Alabama Career Center-Mobile for registration assistance. The process is simple and takes about 20 minutes.