India Jones

Your first job search can be daunting.  Fortunately, whether you’re fresh out of school or switching careers, there are some small steps you can check off your list today to better your chances of starting off on the right foot.  Here are five simple tips to help you prepare for the professional world.


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1)  Update your voicemail with a professional greeting.

A polished voicemail can make all the difference in showing hiring managers you are professional.  Having a default greeting will make it seem as if you could not be bothered, while an informal one sends the message that the job search is not a serious task for you.  Don’t overthink it and make it short and simple.  Try the following:

'Hello, you have reached [insert name]. I’m sorry I could not take your call right now but please leave your name and message and I’ll be sure to call back. Thank you and have a nice day.'

See?  Simple, professional, and takes less than two minutes to craft.

2)  Add a summary to your LinkedIn profile.

It may seem too personal at first, but a summary on your LinkedIn profile is  also a good way to introduce yourself to online recruiters.  You can be as creative or serious as you’d like, and allow the following outline to inspire you:

  • An eye catching greeting.  This is your first opportunity to make a statement and set yourself apart from the rest.  
  • Describe your occupation.  Describe how your expertise allows you to excel in your current field.  What specific skills do you have?  Where did you gain these skills?
  • Explain a few of your own accomplishments, awards, or honors you’ve obtained in your role.
  • Describe your character traits and what makes you unique.
  • Detail how recruiters may contact you outside of social media.

Here’s an example:

'I believe everyone has a story to tell.  As a copywriter, I bridge the gap between the idea and audience and communicate in a clear, imaginative, and cohesive way.  Effective and comfortable in writing anything from a one-liner that resonates to an informative long handed copy, I handle everything with a clear editorial voice.  In my current position, I have demonstrated my expertise by obtaining the Pushcart prize for best short story fiction and for my work in investigative journalism.  My unwavering curiosity pairs with my determination to always put my best work forward.

See for yourself.  Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.'

3)  Mimic the job description in your resume.

Whenever you look at a job description, you should also be looking at the language being used.  Let’s look at a random editorial position on

The ideal candidate must:

  • Be interested in the web design, digital and technology space.
  • Have a degree in English, Communications, Marketing, or a related field.
  • Have an ability to convey messages both in writing and in person.
  • Have strong skills in web writing tactics and an understanding of optimizing for [the company] .
  • Be able to think critically, multi-task, and keep up in a fast-paced working environment.

One can see that there is a pattern of formality throughout the description.  When applying to this job, you can change our resume slightly to say the following when summarizing your past experience:

'I have the following to offer your company:

  • A passion for digital communications as demonstrated through internship experience and coursework.
  • The ability to multitask and manage time effectively, as noted by previous supervisors.
  • Proficiency in SEO optimization and increasing online visibility through content.'

Although I haven’t recreated the original description verbatim, I’ve rephrased it to help the recruiter tie my skills to the position I’ve applied for.  By using similar wording, it's more likely they’ll notice me in a sea of hundreds of other applicants.

4)  Have concrete examples prepared for your in-person interview.

Did you increase reader engagement on social media platforms?  Have you raised the amount of followers on a platform from 1 to 1,000?  Did you create content that went viral?  Then talk about it!  Use actual examples of your work so that hiring managers can get to know how great you are outside of the fluffy resume wording.  Hiring managers’ eyes tend to glaze over when you talk about how hard working or determined you are because they’ve heard it from everyone else.  Remember to throw some concrete numbers in there to set yourself apart.


Mimic the job description in your resume.


5) Use more action words.

In order to make sure your resume and cover letter have a great impact on whoever is reading it, don’t forget to add some strong, compelling action words to show off your awesome accomplishments.  Here are some of my personal favorites:

To show improvement:

  1. Customized
  2. Overhauled
  3. Refined
  4. Perfected

To highlight leadership:

  1. Oversaw
  2. Directed
  3. Mentored
  4. Trained

To show you’re a team player:

  1. Collaborated
  2. Assimilated
  3. Fostered
  4. Gathered

To exemplify yourself as a people-person:

  1. Corresponded
  2. Persuaded
  3. Educated
  4. Welcomed

Now that you know five simple steps you can do to jump-start your career search, you can get started today!  Good luck!


India Jones is a senior undergraduate student at the University of Mary Washington.  She has a passion for writing, anything DIY, and Indiana Jones references.  After happily completing her undergraduate degree in Psychology, she plans to enter into her graduate program in Clinical Psychology while also continuing her career in writing.

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