When you start your job search, you’ll find it takes more than a job application to apply for a job. Employers may ask for supporting documents like a resume, a cover letter, references, and more. Pulling it all together might sound like a lot of work, but each piece of paper—real or digital—is a chance to highlight your best qualities as a professional.
Here are the 5 most important documents you need for your job search.
Your Resume Helps Your Job Search
A resume is the foundation of nearly every job application. It’s usually the first item that employers look at it because it clearly indicates who meets the minimum requirements for the position and who doesn’t. That’s why it’s important to make sure your resume is continually updated and includes skills and experience that are relevant to the jobs you apply for. Here are a few tips to make sure you hit the mark:
- List your experience in chronological order. This helps employers review your work history quickly.
- Include both hard and soft skills that might fit the position. Technology skills are great, but employers also want to know that you can communicate with others and problem solve when needed.
- Don’t cover up employment gaps. Be honest about your work history and be prepared to explain in the interview why you were out of work.
What a resume doesn’t tell an employer is why you want the job and why you’re a good fit for their company. But a cover letter can. This is your chance to let employers know that you’re the best candidate for the job. Your cover letter doesn’t have to be long—three paragraphs is enough to make your point. Start with a professional greeting and explain why you’re interested in the position. Next, explain why your work experience and professional or educational accomplishments are a perfect match to the job. Close out the letter thanking them for their consideration and providing your contact information in case they choose you for an interview.
Recommendations aren’t always required, but they’re a good piece of supporting documentation. A recommendation is a letter from a former employer, co-worker, or instructor that speaks highly of your work ethic. It should highlight your accomplishments and your strengths as a professional or student. This letter will tell employers what it’s like to work with you and manage you, and how you might fare in the position. Always take the opportunity to ask for letters of recommendation when you can. You never know when you may need them.
Many job applications require a list of references. This is usually a short list of your former employers, but employers may also ask for current or past co-workers, or just someone outside of your family who can vouch for your character. References work similar to a recommendation letter. The employer will contact them and ask them questions about what it’s like to work with you and what you’ve accomplished in the past. This will help the employer get a better sense of who you are and whether you’re a good fit for the position. Just let your references know that you’ve put them on the list so they can expect a call or email from the employer. It’s courteous to let them know ahead of time and you can also ask what they might say. And it’s a good chance to keep in touch with your professional network.
It’s easy to forget this last component, but it can make more of a difference than you may think. After the interview, you should always send a note of thanks to the search committee. Whether you write a personalized note or fire off an email, the message is the same: thank you! Even if you don’t have the contact information of everyone who interviewed you, you can send it to the administrative assistant and ask them to pass it along. A thank-you note is a final chance to express your interest in the position and your gratitude for the opportunity to be considered for it. Many candidates forget to follow up, so a bit of thanks can help you stand out from your competition.
You can also stand out from the competition with a degree or certificate from Charter College. We offer career training programs in Business, Health Care, Information Technology, and the Trades. Call us at 888-200-9972 or fill out the form to learn more.