Once you have solidified the content of your application materials (see Résumé Writing Handout, Cover Letter Construction Handout and References and Letters of Recommendation Handout) the next step in the job application process is to be sure you are submitting those materials correctly.
Every employer will have a different expectation when it comes to application submissions. Some may require you to submit your materials in paper form, either in person or through the mail. However, submitting materials in paper form is very rare in today’s job search process.
Often employers will ask that you submit your materials either via email or through an online application system. Whatever the submission process, it is imperative that you follow all instructions provided by the employer. Only include documents that are specifically requested and be sure to provide those documents in the format requested (i.e. Word, PDF, etc.).
If the application instructions ever conflict with information provided in this handout, it is strongly suggested that you follow the application’s stated instructions.
Submitting materials in paper form
The most important part of submitting application materials in paper form is the type of paper on which you print your materials. A cream or white-colored résumé paper should be selected. Parchment paper, heavy cardstock, and bright colors should all be avoided when selecting your résumé paper.
Résumé paper can be purchased by the ream at stores that sell office supplies. If you do not want to invest in a full ream of paper or do not have access to a printer, another option is to save your materials as separate PDF documents and have them printed at a printing center such as FedEx or a UPS Store.
If you have your materials printed at such a store, you should be provided with a booklet of paper options. Be sure to select a cream or white résumé paper option. Also, be sure to inspect the materials that you have had printed for smudges or errors before leaving the store.
The following are additional helpful tips for submitting materials in paper form:
- Never staple materials together (paper clips are a nice alternative)
- Ship materials flat (never folded) in a large envelope
- When shipping materials, it is best to have the address printed directly onto the envelope or onto a label
- Place your materials in the following traditional order: cover letter, résumé, references, any additional materials requested
Submitting materials via email
Submitting application materials via email is a very popular method in today’s market. The most important aspects of applying via email are the attachments you include.
All of your materials should be saved as separate PDF documents each titled with the position title, your name, and the type of document (i.e. HealthEducator_Lucy Myers_Resume). PDF documents are best because they freeze the formatting on your application materials. Word documents do not freeze formatting. If documents are created in one version of Word and opened in another version they will often appear different from what you intended.
There are two acceptable approaches to the text of the email itself. The first, more traditional, approach is to copy and paste the text of your cover letter into the email. Therefore, when the employer opens your email they are reading your formal cover letter. If you utilize this approach, be sure to include your cover letter as a separate PDF attachment. This allows the employer to print your materials easily.
The second option is more modern and concise. It involves writing a very brief email stating the position you are applying for, asking if there is any additional information needed, and thanking the employer for their consideration. If you were referred to the position by someone, you always want to be sure to include that name in the text of the email. Please see the sample below: