When you being your job search, you will need to create a massive amount of documents. Wait, I take that back. You should have been creating these documents long before your job search. While they vary slightly based on your field, the basics are still the same. This is something that you will keep with you and keep updated as you progress through your career.
- Work History
- Extracurricular and Volunteer History
- For those staying in academics
- Curriculum Vitae
- Teaching Statement
- Research Statement
- Evaluations (If you student taught)
There are a multitude of resources (here and here) out there on preparing an effective resume. Most word processors have fairly good templates to use, or in my case, I wanted mine to look a bit different than the standard, so I created my own. I can’t exactly take credit for it, I saw something like it elsewhere (honestly can’t remember were at this point) and adapted it for what my purposes. Make sure it is readable, but make it match your personality. My resume can be found here.
For references, you will need an assortment of individuals. I have a list of people I can pull for references in different type of positions. I have academic (former professors), professional (coworkers and research partners), character (personal friends), and political (elected officials). I sometimes mix and match, and I have some individuals on more than one list. Say, if I’m going for a teaching job, one of my references I have known for six years (character), he used to be my professor (academic), and we are currently doing research together (professional).
Work History is something you will probably never actually send out, but to me it is one of the most valuable. It is a list of very job you have ever held, with ever function of that job listed. You include all the location information for the company, your supervisors name and contact information, and a secondary contact’s name and contact information. Why? Because some application systems now require it. Even though you may upload a resume, they still want the more detailed information. If you have it all prepared in a single document, you can simply copy and paste it into the online form. Like your Work History, you also need a record of your Extracurricular and Volunteer History. If you are in a large number of groups in college, it is easy to lose count. I honestly thing mine is still missing some of the things I did the first few years because I didn’t write any of it down until late in my junior year.
Most jobs that require a certain level of education, especially in education and government service, require a transcript to verify education. As soon as my degree posted I requested 10 official copies. One I opened and scanned into a PDF file that is stored on my computer. If I need an unoffical copy, I print one. If I need it to be emailed, it is easily done. And if, for some reason, an official copy is required, I have them at my disposal.
Finally are the specific to academia documents. These are a very unique beast, so I will leave you with some of the sites I used with compiling mine. The Division of Education Studies at Emory University has a good overview of what goes into a CV and how to format it. Perdue University also has some good information, as do the good bloggers at Fumbling Towards Tenure Track.
I called it a folder. You actually need two (or three) folders. Keep all your job search information in one folder on your computer. I have subfolders set up with current documents and former documents. I also have a layer of folders for applications I’m currently drafting (find a posting, save it as a PDF in a new folder named the title and institution), pending applications (for ones that I have submitted, and have not yet been filled), Interviewed (move the folders from pending for jobs where I receive an interview, then look to see if I did anything different in the cover letter), and Abandoned (for jobs that have been filled, or I haven’t heard anything from in a long time).
You notice I didn’t mention Cover Letters in documents to prepare ahead of time. Each letter has to be customized for the individual position. But, that is why I name the folders by title. It is easy to find letters you have prepared for similar positions as you go through your search.
Finally, you need to print copies of the documents to keep as a backup. Things happen with electronic storage. With something that needs to stick with you throughout your career, and with changing file formats, a hard copy to reference in the future may come in handy. It is also a good idea to use a service such as Dropbox to not only backup your files, but also to be able to access the files from other than your normal computer. For example, there was an occasion when I was house sitting and only had my netbook with me when a job posted for only 3 days. I was still able to access my files and and complete the application. Then, by uploading the completed packets back to Dropbox, it was waiting for me on my main computer when I returned home.
Up next, more uses of technology for your job search.