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If you are engaged in an active job search, there are many best practices you can use to maximize your chances of success. These include activities you can do before, during, and after you apply for positions.
Templates do not allow for the kind of customization needed to address all resume requests, and they can be difficult to edit. Build your resume using a blank Microsoft Word document. You can draw from resume samples you like, but not via a template. For more information on creating and editing a resume, click on the Resumes tab.
Notify potential references that you are job searching, and ask their permission to use them as a reference, if needed. It is unprofessional for someone to receive a reference call without first being notified of the possibility. Generally, ask three to five people who represent a mix of professors and/or job internship sponsors to serve as your references. Coaches and volunteer work supervisors can also be good choices.
Is there anything posted about you on the Internet or social media sites that could be viewed as a red flag for employers? Such things include inappropriate pictures or personal statements/opinions in your Facebook profile. Expect that employers will check your Facebook profile; most do for candidates who reach the final interview. Strong privacy settings do not always safeguard others from viewing your personal information.
Be sure the phone number you provide on a resume or application has a professional voice mail message. Change any message that includes music, jokes, nicknames, background noises, etc. An appropriate voice mail message gives your name, indicates that you are not available, and requests that the caller leave a message.
Make sure you have a professional outfit to wear to an interview. You may be called in on short notice, and this helps avoid last-minute shopping. Appropriate attire includes a conservative suit (for men or women) or other professional-looking outfits. Even if you are on a tight budget, thrift shops often offer a large selection.
Sometimes job listings are removed from websites, so it’s a good idea to make sure you have a copy of descriptions on hand. Even if you can no longer view a listing, the job may still be open—or you can inquire with an organization if applications are still being considered.
Job descriptions often present the qualifications of ideal candidates. If you do not meet all of the qualifications for a position that interests you, but your instinct tells you that you would be a strong candidate, consider applying. Show the description to trusted supervisors, or faculty members and get their input.
Keep in mind that you expand your options whenever you expand or modify your search parameters. While it’s okay to be selective and look for jobs with a specific title or within a targeted geographic area, or salary range, you may find more opportunities by adding 10 miles to your driving distance, reducing your salary requirement by five to ten percent, or considering different job titles (such as marketing manager, rather than marketing director). Expanding your preferences can not only help you find more positions that meet your search criteria, but it can also help you find opportunities in a new field.
Most people think of the resume as the document that will make or break an application, but a cover letter can be just as influential. Employers value a strong communicator, and the cover letter is often their first glimpse of your communication skills.
You should include a cover letter with your resume, even if it is not requested in a job description. However, do not include a cover letter if the job description states no cover letter is needed, or someone in the hiring process has told you not to include a letter.
For more advice on cover letters visit the cover letters page.
There’s a saying, “Finding a job is a full-time job.” Successful job hunters spend several hours per week on their job search by networking, researching open positions, applying to jobs, writing cover letters, making follow-up calls, and more. Determine the amount of time you can devote to your search. Remember, the less time you have, the longer it may take to find a job.
Sometimes follow-up calls can help applicants get interviews. Typically a follow-up call is made one week after the advertised deadline for applying for a job. For positions with no posted deadline, a follow-up phone call can be made one to one-and-one-half weeks after you apply for a job.
The purpose of your call is to state your interest in the position, inquire about their process, and make a brief plug for yourself. Do not call just to ask if your application was received. Say, for example, “This is John Smith. I’m a recent graduate from Becker College’s veterinary science program. I applied for the veterinary technician position and am very interested in being considered. Could you let me know where you are in the hiring process?” Sometimes this contact can lead to a conversation, but you may simply receive an answer to your question.