Michele Olney was horrified when she heard someone advocating good old-fashioned doorknocking as the way to get a job.

Ms Olney, who had just been made redundant as an in-house recruiter for a multinational, was at a seminar for people applying for the dole.

"I was cringing," she says. "I was thinking, 'That's so wrong, that's so wrong! Oh no!'

"It was things like telling people, 'If there's a company you want to work for, go to that company and drop off your CV.'

"No! We are in 2009. Most people have access to email, there are internet cafes, it's not that hard to get your CV in by email."

At 34, Ms Olney is used to filing job applications in an electronic database.

"I do review the ones that come in on email," she says. "If you have a well-presented CV and a good cover letter explaining the type of job you're looking for, or if I have an address of a website, if your skill set and experience match what I'm looking for, I'm going to take notice of you.

"Whereas if you are just randomly coming in with a paper CV, what am I going to do with it? I'm going to have to randomly store it somewhere and rely on my memory."

Ms Olney's experience in corporate recruiting is at one end of a spectrum. As this series will find later, for less skilled work, face-to-face interaction with potential employers is still a good way to get jobs.

Even for professional jobs, nzherald.co.nz jobs columnist Kate Ross recommends the personal approach in some cases.

"It's being slightly creative," she says. "Rather than just sending it [a job application] by resume, it may be dropping in to the client [employer] and saying, 'Here I am.' For me, if I was receiving that application, I would think, 'This person is serious about it'."

But in general, email rules. Dale Bailey, northern regional manager of Career Services, had 110 applications for a job last year, and all but two came by email.

That means that the curriculum vitae (CV) and cover letter become the all-important first step to even getting to an interview. Tom O'Neil of cv.co.nz says a CV can no longer be just a chronological record.

"The most important thing is it should sell you, highlight your achievements," he says.

All consultants say a CV should be no more than four pages, ideally three.

"Personal statements" are out of fashion. So are pictures, except in rare cases where your looks matter for the job.

Jacqui Barratt, who leads the New Zealand section of the Recruitment and Consulting Services Association, recommends asking someone to proofread the CV and getting a professional email address - "damnfineeasychick probably isn't a good idea".

"And think of the message on your mobile: 'Yo, bro, what's up, leave a message'? That's the first impression."

The cover letter matters too. Kate Ross says it should be one page, or a page and a half at most, and should be so good that she doesn't need to read the CV.

"You should be able to sell me on that letter," she says.

All the consultants recommend writing the letter and rewriting the CV for each job, researching the organisation online, reading the job specifications and emphasising what the employer is looking for.

From her own experience, Ms Olney advises against applying for jobs where you are not the person the employer wants.

"Don't apply for 50 jobs just because you think you could do them," she says. "If you are well overqualified, or underqualified, whoever looks at it is going to question your motivation and how long you're going to stay in the job.

"One of the worst things I notice when I call candidates is, 'What job are you from again? I've applied for lots of jobs.'

"I don't need to know that. You should have a record of what jobs you applied for and where you've sent your CV."

But she also recognises the dangers that come with jobhunting from the isolation of home.

"You do tend to get a kind of cabin fever," she says. "I was out of work for three or four weeks and then I started to get a couple of temp assignments through temp agencies.

"I was a receptionist, I did some cold-calling and getting paid $2 an hour or something.

"But it relieves the boredom, it brought the money in, and it got me out of the house."

Ms Barratt suggests anyone made redundant should get up at the same time they used to for work and keep up with other routines such as the gym.

Gay Barton of Drake Recruitment says: "Get up and dress for work and look as if you're going to work while you're jobhunting. If you get out of that routine and get down, it becomes difficult."

She says the most important thing to know when you lose your job is that there is "light at the end of the tunnel".

"It may not look like that at the time," she concedes. "For some people that tunnel will be longer than for others. But it will eventually end."