A modern job search requires more than a resume. You may need a suite of job search documents, depending on your industry, profession, and career level. The documents you might need, in addition to your resume and LinkedIn profile could include the following:
- A resume addendum,
- Cover letter for your resume,
- Networking letters,
- Follow-up letters,
- Thank you letters,
- Writing samples, and
- A career portfolio.
You will save time, and avoid being eliminated from consideration for not responding promptly to requests, when you have documents prepared in advance.
The addendum is “in addition to” the resume. It’s a separate document that includes information that is useful or relevant but would take up too much space on the main resume pages. Information that could be included on an addendum: publications, public speaking engagements, professional memberships, volunteer activities, etc. Including this information on an addendum provides more room on the resume for experience and accomplishments. The addendum can be submitted with the resume or shared during the interview.
Apply judgement when deciding what to include on an addendum and what to include on the resume. For example, certain volunteer work may be appropriate for the resume when you are applying for a not-for-profit leadership role, but may not demonstrate your unique value for corporate jobs in some cases.
The cover letter, sometimes called a job search letter, is used to introduce you when you can’t hand your resume to a hiring manager. In a modern job search, the cover letter may not be a separate document; instead, it may be the text in an introductory email message to the hiring manager or recruiter.
From time-to-time, jobseekers ask me for cover letters they will hand to hiring managers at job fairs. Job fair cover letters are redundant, in my opinion, because the letter is designed to serve as an introduction when you are not there to introduce yourself. You are, in a sense, a walking, talking cover letter at a job fair.
If you’ve applied for a job but haven’t heard back, a follow-up letter (most often sent as a follow-up email) can be an effective tool. The follow-up letter can also be sent after a job interview. In either case, the follow-up letter reiterates the qualifications for the position and provides the applicant’s contact information, along with a call to action (requesting an interview from the application or requesting a status update after the job interview)
Sales trainers typically suggest sending two letters after an initial contact with a prospective customer. The sale—in this case an interview or job offer—is probably not going to happen when there is no response to three outreach attempts.
A networking letter is used when reaching out to contacts for assistance in the job search — for example, helping arrange informational interviews, referrals to recruiters and hiring managers, or job leads.
Most of the time, you will be sending networking “letters” as email or LinkedIn messages.
Thank You Letters
Customized thank you letters should be sent after a networking meeting, informational interview, and employment interview. Thank you letters can be handwritten and sent by mail; however, in a modern job search, most thank you letters are sent by email.
The strategy I recommend is to write a substantive thank you letter. A substantive thank you is a letter that adds new information, such as a more detailed response for an interview question. Not everyone writes unique and substantive thank you letters and emails, so this strategy could be a differentiator that lands a job for you.
For jobs requiring written communication skills, a writing sample may be required. Sometimes the prospective employer will provide specific details about the types of samples to submit; other times the applicant will simply be directed to provide samples and the candidate will need to decide which examples of their work to send.
Nearly every professional and administrative job—one could argue nearly every job—seems to require the ability to write clear and concise email messages, so be prepared for your writing skills to be tested.
The career portfolio is a curated collection of documents and work samples that provides tangible evidence of your work experience, education, and skills. It can include other career documents, such as a resume and bio, references, and transcripts. Also, it can include copies of awards, certificates, and proof of completing continuing education or professional development courses.
Your LinkedIn profile allows you to upload and link to media, so the profile can include many elements of a portfolio. A LinkedIn profile, though, is “public”—you cannot customize it for specific employers and networking contacts. As a result, you may want to look for a career portfolio website that allows you to distribute secure links to specific people. Other options include maintaining a hard-copy binder, keeping it on an iPad or other tablet you bring to interviews, or having it reside on your own secure website. Most employers that want to see a portfolio probably expect it to be accessible online.
The suite of documents you will need to develop during your job search will vary depending on your industry, profession, and career level. You may be expected to develop documents such as a career bio when you are applying for senior leadership roles. Universities may request an extensive “curricula vitae” detailing your publications, academic credentials, professional society memberships, and much more. Research your specific industry to learn about unique documents employers in that field may ask for. There is nothing worse than being asked at the last minute to deliver a document you have never heard of before to close the deal. That could mean engaging a specialist to help overnight at great expense. Job search is like most business and professional endeavors—you have to do your homework.