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Distance Job Search Tools

Distance Job Search Tools

The basic tools you need for doing a long distance job search aren't much different from what you need to look for work at home - a resume, cover letter writing ability, examples of your good work, and references.  What is different is how you get them to out-of-town employers.  Thankfully, technology, here, is usually your friend.  However, like any machine or tool, it is only as effective as the person using it or if it is used in the right way.

This module will teach you some simple ways to connect to employers and deliver your goods.  It will also steer you to some resources to help you polish up your basic job search tools.  We assume you have a draft copy of a resume, but if you don't, check out NIEFS Job Search section for resume templates.

Your electronic tool kit includes: Phone; Email; Fax.



This is your lifeline and the single most important tool you will use to conduct a long distance job search. This is the only way you can have personal contact with an employer short of actually seeing them in person.

There is a real casual culture that we have built up around making and taking phone calls, and this can be a big barrier to doing an effective long distance job search. We are more tuned into running and answering that little ring than Pavlov's hounds.  We don't take time to figure out whether it is a good time to take that call or not. The rest of the time, the phone just sits there inconspicuously on your counter or on the wall, unlike a real live person.  So, we tend to forget about returning or making calls that we said we would.  We also forget to record vital information like names and phone numbers and times, which we would be more likely to remember if we were meeting a real person. How many times have you hung up after talking to someone for the first time and been able to recall their name?  Like maybe once, right?

When you are doing a distance job search, you must treat the phone like it is your future boss personified (remember Charlie's Angels?).  Here are some phone etiquette tips for doing a distance job search:

Get comfortable with talking business-like or professionally on the phone. That means, go beyond "Hi ya" or "Whadya want" when picking up the phone and start with a simple hello and identify yourself.

Pick your times to use it. You don't want to be making a phone call to an employer or picking up the phone (with your employer possibly on the line) when chaos has broken loose in your house, and you are distracted by the baby barking, the dog crying, or the music playing at 100 decibels.  Which brings me to my next point…

Invest in some kind of answering machine, service, pager, or whatever. This will help you manage the above.  If you do, make sure your answering machine has pleasant, neutral sounding message (no more jokes on your message like "sorry, I'm chained up and can't come to the phone right now"). 

Get used to leaving messages. It seems like it gets harder and harder to reach an actual person by phone these days with all those accessories like answering machines, voice mail, pagers and answering services.  Nonetheless, most people do listen to those messages and try to return them.  But, if you don't leave one, you were never there.

There is also something about talking to a machine that seems to cause us to freeze up or babble on until the tape runs out. Prepare what you want to say ahead of time and you will be able to resist hanging up like a prank caller.  This leads into my next point…

Be persistent and consistent. Keep calling and leaving messages until you talk to that live human being - treat it like the game that it is - Telephone Tag.  And follow-through on your calls by making them when you say you will.  Schedule them into your day and tell everyone to leave you alone while you make your call.

Have your stuff in front of you, including a pen and a paper. Have your resume and other relevant information in front of you when you call.  Also write down who you talked to, their phone number and what the two of you decided was the next step. 


E-mail is another fast way to get your resume to an employer. It has added value as your e-mail message can serve as a cover letter. With e-mail you have two fundamental choices. You can either put all your resume information in the text box of your email or you can attach your resume as a separate document. The safest way to ensure an employer gets the information is to use the first method, but you have to stick to a very basic layout for your resume. Attaching your resume can also be very problematic if you don't know how to set it up right.

This module will give you basic instructions as to how to do both of the above. If you want more information and options on electronic resumes, try this online workshop.

A note of caution… with all the spam (computer junk mail), and computer viruses floating around out there, many people are choosing to only open e-mail messages, and especially attachments, when they know who is sending it and what it is about.  Be sure to follow up with an employer to ensure they received your application otherwise they may delete your email without reading it or your resume.


You are able to send your resume quickly to an employer.
It goes directly to whoever you intend to see it and does not have to pass through other people's hands.
It saves on paper, copying and mailing costs.


Viewing a resume as an attachment to your email is a real problem for a couple of reasons:

Everyone is very afraid of computer viruses these days so we are all afraid to open emails that are unfamiliar as so many viruses get into our systems this way.

Solution: Make sure the employer knows you are going to be sending your resume by e-mail

Incompatibility of software programs and versions of the same software mean that unless you know what you are doing, the employer will not be able to open up your resume or it will be such a mess to look at, which would destroy any chance you have of getting an interview

Solution: Put the contents of your resume in the text box of the actual email itself, or save a version of your resume as a PDF file. 

What you need:

An email account. Don't have one? There are lots of free email programs out there including Gmail.
A computer with Internet Access. 
A phone to follow up your email with to make sure your resume came through OK.



Although email tends to be the preferred method of applying these days, sending your email by fax is still an option.


The appearance and content of your resume, letters, certificates, etc. will stay the same without a lot of tinkering on your part, compared to other ways of electronically sending your stuff.

 You don't need access to a computer or the Internet

It's easy to work, usually like working a phone and a photocopier, so you don't need to be technically inclined

You can use the same pieces of paper over and over to send to different employers (until they get dog-eared and jam the machine).

Fax machines can easily transmit copies of original documents like certificates, diplomas, or tickets 

Connect with the the NIEFS work support centre staff if you have questions about applying by fax.


  • You have no control over the quality of the appearance of  your resume on the other side as it depends on how good the employers' fax machine is.
  • You have no guarantee that the employer received what you sent - unless you phone back and check.
  • Fax machines are quite 'public' and faxed documents may pass through several hands before actually being handed to whoever you meant it for.  
  • Operator error - it is easy to misdial the numbers or worse, dial up the phone number rather than the fax number.  This is painful for your employer who picks up the phone and gets that high-pitched fax sound ringing in their ear. This is really bad if you send it using a fax machine that re-dials until the end of time. 

 What you need:

  • Access to a reliable fax machine/telephone line.
  • The fax and phone numbers of who you are trying to send it to.
  • A cover sheet/mini cover letter.

 Connect with the the NIEFS work support centre staff if you have questions about applying by fax.