Lesser-Known Career Documents You Need for a Successful Job Search
Some of the documents in your career portfolio are self-evident: your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. You probably tweak your resume as necessary and write cover letters from scratch to show your target employer why you are passionate about a specific role.
Other career documents may not be as readily present in your portfolio. Let’s review the additional notes and templates you could prepare now to facilitate your job search in the future.
Before the Job Application:
1. A list of your top 5-10 differentiators
You will need it for job interview preparation as well as to define your ‘brand’. When you are updating your application for a specific role or preparing for an interview, review your list of top strengths and pick the ones that are most relevant for a specific company/role.
2. Executive bio or networking resume
This is a one-page, visually appealing PDF document with a condensed description of your key achievements and areas of expertise. Align the content to match the needs of your audience. Are you looking to introduce yourself online to a specific group of clients? Are you seeking speaking engagements? Define your target audience, think about their top 3 questions, and answer them in a concise document that is easy to skim.
You do not need to list all your roles chronologically here. Choose the highlights that speak to your brand and career goals.
3. Introductory message for networking
You will need several brief messages based on your target audience and the purpose of networking. Are you connecting with colleagues after attending a conference or watching their webinars? Draft a message to let them know what specifically was useful about their presentation and why you want to connect.
Have you identified a potential employer and would like to reach out to one of their current employees to learn more about the company culture? Draft a message to introduce yourself and request a brief chat.
4. Your networking map and plan
Create a list of target employers and role titles of the decision-makers at these companies. For example, a freelance copy editor will want to reach out to managing editors; an author will reach out to acquisitions editors to propose a manuscript for publication; an account executive will reach out to VP of Sales or CEO.
List all other colleagues with whom you would like to maintain professional relationships (professional association leaders and fellow members, former colleagues, former clients, service providers, etc.).
5. A list of your favorite (general or specialized) job boards
While you want to focus on networking as a primary way to find new work opportunities, you may also need to use a few reliable, high-quality job boards to search postings. Define where you prefer to look for jobs: Indeed, LinkedIn jobs, remote-only job boards, or niche job boards in your industry (including those curated by professional associations). Sign up for email alerts.
6. A list of professional associations
Know the leading associations in your industry, join 1-3 of them in any given year, keep the memberships that offer you the best value, and know who the associations’ leaders are. Look into opportunities to volunteer, present at conferences, or contribute your expertise in other ways.
7. Association member profile
Create a strong profile listing to support your membership and be findable online. This may allow potential clients and employers to reach out to you directly or verify your credentials.
8. Phone script for contacting hiring professionals
Following up on the phone may be a bit daunting. Some job ads discourage it explicitly, while others list a phone number. Use this opportunity to get in touch with the company when you have a reason.
Draft a few sentences you might say to introduce yourself (your unique qualifications for this role) and some questions you might have for the company about the next steps or who would be the best person to reach out to. You may even ask for the hiring manager’s email address to send additional information or a personalized cover letter.
9. Email script to request recommendations
The best way to receive recommendations on a regular basis is simply to ask for them. You likely have many more clients and colleagues who are willing to recommend you than you think.
10. Email signature with links to your online presence
Use free tools like www.hubspot.com or www.wisestamp.com to create your email signature.
Your signature can include memberships, logo, photo, links to your social media, and even a paragraph about your unique professional offer. You can also include recent awards and quotes from satisfied customers.
Choose the essential components of your brand depending on what your clients/employers need to know, what web pages you want them to visit, what credentials give you the most credibility, and how you want to be contacted.
After the Job Application:
1. Follow-up email
Send a follow-up email within 5 business days of applying. During the interview, ask the company what email address you could use to follow up and send them a message.
2. References sheet
This is a one-page document, visually aligned with your resume and cover letter style, that lists your 3-5 references, your relationship to them, and some details of your performance. It may include a testimonial about your work at the end of the page.
3. Elevator pitch (“Tell me about yourself”)
This is your short answer (1 minute) on why you are the right candidate for this role.
4. Your interview prep resources
Here are the suggestions from several interview coaches on how to prepare for job interviews in 2021, including what questions to ask at the end of the interview: https://tm-editorial.com/interview-coaching-how-to-ace-a-job-interview-in-2021/
In this podcast episode, interview coach Thea Kelley talks about the elevator pitch (“Tell me about yourself”), illegal questions, salary questions, and body language during interviews.
5. Notes about the role you applied for, contact information and names of the decision-makers, and your notes about the company
To eliminate any doubt later on, write down any red flags you observed during the interview or points you forgot to mention.
After the Interview:
1. Thank you letter
Send a thank you letter the same day you had your interview. Compliment the company and interviewers on the aspects you enjoyed or the strengths of their business that you learned about. Genuinely thank them for their time. Add anything you may have forgotten to mention (briefly, 1-2 key points), and close with a note about your enthusiasm and why you are the right fit for the role.
2. “30/60/90-Day” Plan
Some employers may request this for your second interview. Some of my clients volunteered to create this document and sent it to the employer the day after the interview, to express their enthusiasm and outline the value they are ready to deliver.
Whatever your situation, this can be a brief PowerPoint presentation on the problems and solutions for this company. Focus on your initial action items; this does not always have to be a long-term, 90-day plan. Avoid going into detail and spending more than 1-2 hours preparing this document, unless you have reasons to believe otherwise based on your interactions with the company.
3. Compensation package negotiation notes
You should always consider negotiating the offer. Depending on the context, you may focus on a particular component of the compensation package: salary, paid time off, insurance, stock options, pension plans, bonus amounts, remote work options, commuting costs, professional development/training/education, number of people on your team, internet/phone/equipment fees, and/or your title.
This podcast episode has excellent examples of phrases to use to negotiate salary from Thea Kelley.
About the author:
Tanya Mykhaylychenko provides resume writing and career strategy services for executives. Connect with her on LinkedIn for networking tips and ideas on executive career development.