Job seekers often spend most of their time focused on creating the perfect resume. And while a clear, focused resume is certainly important, it’s not the only document you need for a successful job search. Instead, develop a whole arsenal of job search tools so that you’ll be ready to provide whatever a potential employer asks for.
“Craft a unified package that consistently conveys a highly professional image of yourself,” says Ford R. Myers, career coach, speaker and author of Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring, (John Wiley & Sons). In addition to your fine-tuned resume, that package should include:
- A one-sheet. Also called a one-pager or just a bio, this is a one-page biography about your professional life. It’s not necessary to include personal information, but you should give a detailed history of your professional experience. On this page, you can add a little more detail than you may be able to include in your resume, such as information about how you perfected certain skills or important contributions you have made in other positions. You may also include information about the specific skills you bring to the table, and possibly even short testimonials from some of your references. Consider including a current photograph to add some personality to the bio.
- Accomplishment stories. Similar to case studies, these stories can offer a snapshot into your previous work experience, explaining a certain challenge or task that you were faced with and detailing how you approached it and the results you accomplished. Consider writing these in the form of traditional case studies, divided into three sections with headings such as: Problem, Solution, Results.
- Cover letters. Of course you need to send a cover letter with your resume. But each time you send out a resume, the cover letter may be different, depending on what skills the employer is looking for or the type of job for which they are hiring. Be prepared; write several versions of your cover letter in advance, based on the different types of jobs you’re pursuing. Then you can simply locate the right one when you need to send out the next resume.
- Professional references. Don’t wait to locate references’ contact information or ask for their permission when you’re ready to send out a resume. Instead, plan ahead. Create a list of potential references, complete with contact information, and ask each of them if they’re willing to serve as a reference for you. Once you’ve gotten the ok, keep this list handy and you can pick and choose which ones you want to send to a potential employer when you send out the next resume.
- List of targeted employers. Rather than searching blindly by skimming the want ads or job boards every day, develop a list of the employers you’d most like to interview with. Then set about making inroads with those companies through personal networking and social networking.
- Elevator speech. Develop a 30-second spiel that succinctly describes the type of work you’re looking for. Don’t just memorize it; put it in writing and keep this document with your other job search documents. Whenever somebody asks, you’ll have a clear, concise, professional answer ready.
Myers recommends organizing all your job search documents into a divided binder for easy access, but you could also organize them into folders on your hard drive.