Picture this: you’re in the grocery store, stuck in line behind a gentleman paying for $100 worth of groceries in all pennies. You strike up a conversation with the woman behind you, find out she’s the hiring manager at the company of your dreams, and guess what: she wants to bring you in for an interview. But of course you’re caught red-handed without your business cards, and by the time you get home, you’ve lost the crinkled receipt you wrote her number on the back of.
Sound at all familiar? It seems like whenever you’re on the job hunt, opportunities spring when you least expect it. Next time, don’t be caught unprepared. Create a job survival kit you can take with you anywhere and everywhere so you’ll always have the materials you need to help move your job search forward.
What You Need The survival kit I keep in my car is perfect for any kind of highway emergency: flashlight, jumper cables, tire jack, work gloves, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Your job search survival kit should be similar: it should contain every item you’d need for a variety of spontaneous networking situations. These basics are a great place to start:
– Copies of Your Resume Most job seekers email their resumes these days, so it’s easy to forget all about print copies. But having a hard copy to hand out will help you stand out from other candidates and get your name in front of the hiring manager.
Once you update your resume, print out hard copies to hand out to recruiters, fellow alumni, future employers-anyone you meet who can help in your job search. One word of advice: don’t use copy paper. Good letterhead costs a little extra, but its texture and weight will help your resume stand out from those printed on the office laser printer. Also, if you don’t have one already, purchase a plastic file folder or notebook to keep your resumes in. There’s nothing more disheartening than a resume with wrinkly corners.
– Business Cards Always have business on hand. Even if you’ve been out of work for awhile, make some personal cards that contain your contact info, website, Twitter handle, etc. You can get a box of cards printed up fairly cheaply at Kinko’s or one of your neighborhood printers, and Microsoft Word offers a variety easy-to-follow business card templates.
One thing to note: if you’re making your own business cards, make sure the fonts, colors, and formatting mimic your resume. If your business cards and resume match, it makes your personal brand look that much more professional.
– Sample Materials Depending on your industry and if its feasible, try to keep a few works samples in the same folder as your resume. If you’re a freelance writer, keep copies of articles and other writing samples you can hand out along with your resumes. If you’re in the non-profit sector, hang on to annual reports that demonstrate your contributions to past employers. If you’re a graphic designer, keep copies of your favorite design pieces and clip them to your resume.
Where You Should Keep It In an ideal world, you have your job search materials with you at all times. But it seems like the times you most need your resume is when you’re at the park with your kids, and your briefcase is nowhere to be found. Here’s where you can stash your job search survival kits so you’re prepared for any opportunities that come your way.
– In Your Car Sometimes you’re headed places-softball practice, yoga, the zoo-where it’s just not practical to lug your briefcase. But chances are you got there in your care, which can double as a very expensive, four-wheeled purse. Stash copies of our resume somewhere they can’t get wet or wrinkled; possibly in your glove compartment (if it’s large enough) or in the pockets attached to the back of the driver’s seat.
– In Your Gym Locker The gym is a surprisingly great place to network. And while you can’t carry your business cards with you on the stairclimber (where they’d probably get pretty sweaty), you can keep your materials stashed in your gym locker to hand out to any potential employers, colleagues or clients you meet.
– In Your Pocket When you can’t take everything with you, your business card can suffice. Many office supply companies make leather or plastic business card holders that will keep your cards fresh-looking, but that are also light and easy to carry. Slip one of these in your pocket whenever you leave the house, and you’ll be ready for any job opportunities that come your way.
Noel Rozny writes the bi-weekly career blog mypathfinder for the myFootpath website. myFootpath is a resource to help you in your search for a college, degree program, career, graduate school, and non-traditional experiences. Visit www.myfootpath.com to start your college or degree program search.