Your Job Search Tool Kit

During the course of your job search, you will need to rely on a tool kit of items to assist you. Following are recommended items for you to purchase or borrow for the duration of your search:

  • Writing Portfolio — not the kind that artists carry around, but the 9" x 12" leather-bound or vinyl-bound type, such as those made by Stratford. You can usually pick up a quality vinyl-bound writing portfolio for $10 to $20 at any office supply store. You will use it for interviews and job fairs, both for carrying your resume and for taking notes.
  • Pen — whether at a job fair or in the course of your eventual interviews, the type of pen you use will send a message about who you are. Plastic pen, poor college student. Cross pen, prepared job seeker. Even if you truly are a poor college student, spend the $10-$15 to purchase a decent entry level ball-point and keep it reserved for interviewing situations. Function is fine, but form is always more impressive in this category.
  • Pocket Organizer — keep your pocket organizer/notepad or mobile phone (if you use it for organizing your contacts and activities) with you at all times. You never know when you will need to record information for later retrieval. At slow points in your day, use your organizer to plan out your activities for the remainder of the day and week. It can also be used to provide you with gentle reminders for completing that term paper you have been putting off.
  • Mobile Phone — your mobile phone can be a lifesaver or a death sentence, depending on how you use it. While you previously used it primarily for personal calls, the emphasis in your job search will now switch to business calls. So make sure you clean up your outgoing voicemail message and always answer the phone as if there is a potential employer on the other end of the line. If you are in a rush and not able to answer the call professionally, let it go to your voicemail. But make sure you return the call promptly. And you may want to consider a larger minutes plan with your wireless provider, since your job search will tend to increase your overall usage rate.

Following are optional items you may choose to add to your tool kit:

  • Job Portfolio — A job portfolio provides you with a visual and tangible way to represent your credentials, skills and achievements. Port means that a person's credentials are portable, transportable, convenient and manageable. Folio means a packaging of person's credentials through photographs, reproduced evidence, work samples, videos, audio, and other formats. Although it's typically a physical portfolio, it can also include digital materials to be sent later. A job portfolio is organized evidence of your work background, readiness for the job and specific job skills that make you qualified for the job for which you are applying. This is supporting evidence of why you are the best candidate for the job, so be sure to display the specific skills employers are seeking.
  • Briefcase/Messenger Bag — a briefcase/messenger bag will provide you with a mini-office from which to operate when you are at a job fair or a company-site interview. But before you go out to Walmart to buy a $30 vinyl special, consider the value of buying a professional leather bag. Many major office supply stores carry leather cases/bags for around $60. Be aware also that the type of leather, although not greatly affecting the initial appearance, will have a large impact on the long-term appearance . Bonded leather is leather parts glued together, which is used in the cheapest—and lowest quality—leather briefcases. It would be much better to spend an extra $10 to $20 to buy either a split-leather (better) case or a top-grain leather (best) case. Buy quality. Remember, you will be using this well beyond graduation. Invest now in quality that will last you far into the future.
  • Laptop — a computer can benefit you in organizing your job search effort, although it is not a requirement. It can be used for tracking information, generating letters, posting and e-mailing your resume, and accessing Internet job sites. Most job postings are easier to access on a laptop or desktop vs. using your phone