Maintain your job search readiness as a constant practice, whatever your employment status.

If you are in transition and have had interviews, but have not had an offer or found a position that suits you, consider how you are marketing yourself.

Changes in your résumé, dress, correspondence, or social media may be necessary.  Perhaps your interviewing and networking skills need improvement.

In job search news and comments from recruiters, extra points go to the job candidate who continues to exercise skills and build networks, especially in the face of adversity.

Be persistent, keep reaching out, follow up on leads.  Review our tips to learn more:

Update your image & network

  • When you succeed in getting the job you want, add it to your résumé and your LinkedIn profile.
  • Upload your new résumé into The Wright Search.
  • Periodically update the résumé to reflect new skills and responsibilities.
  • Be visible, inside  your company and outside of it.
  • Volunteer for projects that demonstrate your capacity for effective team and individual effort.
  • Build a support network.
  • Join committees, make presentations, write articles, attend conferences.
  • Maintain memberships in field-related professional associations. Many professional associations have student memberships at a discounted rate. Colleagues in these organizations will keep you informed about other openings, salaries, supervisors, hot skills, and other valuable information that can help you stay competitive.
  • Keep in touch with the contacts you have already cultivated.
  • Develop the relationships first, then explore how your contacts might help you and vice versa.
  • Have something to report to contacts about what you are doing to stay current, active and vibrant in your field.
  • Develop and express a positive attitude.

Think about the recruiter

As a job seeker, you are a product. Your résumé, cover letter, phone calls and personal presentation are the packaging that draws attention to your features and benefits. Your consumers include (but aren't limited to) the recruiter, hiring manager, network contact.

In Career Services, we hear about negative impressions made on consumers when a candidate did not think about the receiving end of their behavior.

We also hear about candidates who made a positive impression because they considered how their behavior would affect the consumer, and they took action to make a good impression.

Following are some examples of small things that we know are sometimes overlooked when trying to leave a positive impression on the recruiter, hiring manager, or network contact:

Always leave a phone number in your voicemail message

If you want a callback from the consumer (adviser, recruiter, hiring manager), leave your phone number in the message. No exceptions. In fact, leave it twice – once so there's time for them to pull out a pen and paper, the second time so it can be written down. If the consumer has to take the time out of their busy day to look up your phone number (which they may not do, because giving it to them is your job), you’ll have points taken off your good impression. 

Not everyone will be receiving your phone call on a device that captures the incoming number.  Even if their phone captures your number, forcing them to look it up may be the point at which they decide that's too much work!

Iidentify electronic documents

Send your consumer (adviser, recruiter, hiring manager) a document in electronic format that is labeled with a document name that tells:

  • when they were created
  • what it is
  • what it’s for
  • who it belongs to

For example, are you sending a résumé on April 9, 2012, applying to a recently posted epidemiologist job at the Center for Disease Control? Then name your attached document 2012-yourlastname-yourfirstname-resume-cdc-epidemiologist-04-09.

If the recruiter specifies a naming format, follow it.

Consider how many electronic submissions your consumer receives, and how many of them are titled Resume.  If you inadequately label your document Resume, and the consumer has to rename it (along with the hundreds of other submissions they get), you’ll have points taken off your good impression.

Create a theme

Your consumer (adviser, recruiter, hiring manager) wants brand consistency.

Think about it this way:  the consumer wants their favorite can of soup to be the same today as it was yesterday and as it will be tomorrow. A consistent label helps the consumer find their soup on the store shelf, and when they look at that reliable, consistent label, it brings to mind all the good feelings they have about that soup.

Switch labels and you’ve got to build a good impression all over again.

Your résumé, cover letter, reference sheet, thank you letter, and other supporting documentation all function like those soup can labels – your documents are your self-packaging. So give these documents a themed look. Use the same header, the same font and font size; even the same paper if using traditional correspondence. Communicate with a consistent, professional style, making it easy for the consumer to associate you with quality and reliability.

The 20 to 30 second résumé review

On first review, your consumer (adviser, recruiter, hiring manager), will be giving your résumé 20 to 30 seconds of undivided attention.

Think about your consumer's time limitations and give them what they need in the time they have.

Have a clear strategy for organizing information that they can learn from glancing at the document. They're not going to be happy with you If you make them spend time trying to figure out how the information is organized, or trying to adjust to several different fonts and font sizes, or mentally correcting misspellings, creative punctuation, or arbitrary capitalization.

If you are consistent in formatting information from section to section, and if the content is error free, you make the consumer's job easier, and they like that. They will feel good about you

Throughout your job search and networking, put yourself in the place of the consumer and look for opportunities - even small ones - to ease the communication process and build a positive impression of your interpersonal and professional skills.


If you are unemployed, it is extremely important to stay productive and contribute your skills to activities and achievements.

Recruiters respond more favorably to candidates who, while they are searching for a job, continue to be involved in productive endeavors about which they can speak with enthusiasm.  Not surprisingly, recruiters report negatively on unemployed candidates who cannot demonstrate ongoing involvement in professionally-related activities, skill-building, or other productive activities.

Here are some suggestions for activities that allow you to exercise and build your skills in positive ways:

  • Volunteer with an organization relevant to your field of interest.  Take on a project for the organization that keeps your skills current and expands your network - but still allows you time to job search.
  • Join the local chapter of your professional association and become an active member - go to the meet ups, mingle with others, listen to what they are discussing and what issues keep coming up. Find a small way to be active as a first step, then grow your activity as you get to know the organization and they get to know you. Don't know what your professional associations are? An internet search on 'professional associations for [insert your career here]' will give you results. Then ask professors, peers, researchers in the field which ones they belong to. Many professional organizations have an online job center where employers post open positions. Often they have a website section with field-specific career advice.
  • Look for short-term certification classes that might be applicable to your field
  • Research and attend free, professional or common interest group gatherings to discuss timely issues
  • Seek out independent contractor opportunities or temporary employment that builds experience.
  • Keep growing, building, exploring, developing, reaching out.
  • Develop and express a positive attitude.  A prolonged period of unemployment can challenge optimism, but maintaining and demonstrating a positive attitude is a critical element of job search readiness.  It is not a job search platitude; it is a job search tool.

And when you secure a job - keep doing these things!