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  • Writer's pictureJennifer

First things first

Thankfully when it comes to jobs and career development, we don't have to worry about wondering what came first -- the chicken or the egg. With job hunts, the first thing you want to deal with also happens to be the traditional first wedding anniversary gift -- paper.

If you find that you are stumbling in your job search, newly at the crossroads of searching for a job, or need to recharge your career change efforts, focus on step one: your documents. Make sure you have all the pieces of paper ready to go, because you will need them:

  1. Resume or CV. You have to have this for the vast majority of jobs you will apply for, and you don't want to run into a situation where someone says "send me your resume" and you don't get it to them for days. If they ask, you need to be able to send it over immediately. I won't go into a ton of details, because there is a lot of help out there on the internet, but you want this to look sleek, have no typos, and show that you know how to use Microsoft Office well. I have eliminated people from consideration as a hiring manager who stated that they were skilled with Microsoft Office or had a great attention to detail and yet their documents reflected the exact opposite.

  2. References. These should be in their own list (not in your resume), these should be people whose contact information you already have and have correctly listed and who know they are listed as your references -- people don't like to be surprised with this, and as a reference checker I have had a few people who were surprised to be listed say negative things. Check with the people you are listing!

  3. Cover Letter. I have discussed this a bit in another post, as well as in my recently published book, but you do need a cover letter, it needs to look like a real letter, ideally it is specialized to each employer/position, and it should focus on the employer's needs, not your personal career likes or goals. Don't rehash your experience -- they have a copy of your resume for that. This is the one where people freeze up the most, but you don't have to. If you are really stumped, think of two to four skills or qualities that you have that the employer seems to need and explain why you have those qualities and how you can be a good addition to their team with those qualities.

These are the things you need to have ready to go when you are heading out on that career search, and if you aren't getting any responses, this is where you want to come back to and examine if they are really reflecting the career transition you want to make and the skills you are trying to highlight.

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