A critical aspect of your professional presence, your resume is a document that articulates and markets your professional skills and accomplishments to a prospective employer. Your resume should change to meet requirements of different positions and should be updated as you gain experiences. Ultimately, your finished document should help you stand out from other applicants.
Before uploading your resume to SJUcareers or sending it to an employer, check your document against this checklist to make sure you’ve included everything and are following best practices. For a list of action verbs to help generate ideas for descriptive bullet points, click here.
Review the Guide to Writing Resumes for detailed explanation of best practices.
Now that you’ve written a first draft, get your resume critiqued! An online resume critique through Handshake provides general feedback on formatting and basic best practices. Meeting a counselor in person via appointment or drop-in provides you with specific feedback tailored to your goals.
An important aspect of your professional presence, your cover letter is an opportunity to communicate your unique qualifications to an employer for a specific position. When starting your document, reflect on these questions:
- “What are the key skills/qualifications listed in the job description?” Highlight those you have.
- “Why this employer/why this position?” Communicate excitement and interest.
- "Why me? What makes me stand out?” Provide examples.
The answers to these questions should connect the dots between what an employer is seeking and your experiences.
Avoid including a generic cover letter with your application and make sure you are not repeating your resume word for word. Make every attempt to obtain personal contact information and position title for a specific individual within the organization to whom you can address your letter.
To get you started, take a look at the samples below and review the Guide to Writing Cover Letters for detailed explanation of best practices.
Note: cover letters uploaded to Handshake are automatically approved without a review. If you want your cover letter reviewed by a counselor, bring your cover letter and a job description to Drop-In Hours or schedule an in-person, phone, or Skype appointment by logging into Handshake.
Follow Up Tips
An email or telephone call following a job application or interview is an opportunity to reiterate your level of interest in the position while demonstrating professional communication skills. Communicating with the hiring manager demonstrates your understanding of the importance of timely follow-through, and may help your resume reach the top of the pile. Read on to learn about smart moves to make after submitting your application.
- Keep track of all of your applications and always make time for follow up, no matter how busy you are.
- Be prepared for someone to pick up the phone. Practice your talking points to make the most of the opportunity.
- Show enthusiasm, not desperation. Show you have a sincere interest in the posted position, but do not sound eager to take any job open or act as though this is your only option.
- Follow up regularly, but don’t overdo it. Don’t follow up with a hiring manager more than twice unless they request it.
- Use multiple methods of communication. If you’re not getting a response from email, call (and vice versa).
- If a hiring manager was listed with the job description, communicate with that person. If no hiring manager was listed, check the employer directory in SJUcareers or CareerShift for a contact within the organization to communicate with.
- If you are unable to identify the point of contact, you can reach out to the human resources department to inquire about the status of the search and to request contact information for the hiring manager.
If a deadline has been posted:
- Do not call or follow-up prior to the close date. Give the organization an opportunity to review resumes. Follow up 5-7 business days after the close date. This gives the organization time to take the first step but does not let enough time pass that they have completed the hiring process.
If no deadline or an extended deadline is posted:
- If the application had no close date, wait one week after applying to follow up on your application.
- Make the call from a quiet place, free from distractions.
- Make an outline or have short notes to make sure you cover what you want to say. Keep the conversation focused on the employer, the position, and how you can help them meet their goals.
- Keep a copy of your resume close by for your reference.
- End the conversation asking about the hiring process, their timeline, and if you may follow-up again.
If someone answers:
- Introduce yourself and identify the position you applied for and when you submitted your application.
- Inquire about the status of the search, reiterate your continued interest, and highlight your skill set.
- Ask about their timeline and when would be a good time to follow-up.
- If position is filled, thank the employer for their time. If the organization is of interest to you, let them know you look forward to learning more about open positions that you could be a fit for.
If someone does not answer:
- Leave a message! State your name, the position you applied for, reiterate your continued interest, and inquire about the status of the process. Leave your phone number.
- Subject Line: make sure your subject line is engaging. For example: “Excited about the _____ opportunity”.
- Always address the follow-up to the hiring manager.
- Keep your message short and to the point. State your continued interest in the position and your key qualifications. Attach your resume for reference.
- Spell-check and proofread your e-mail prior to sending it.