When I was in the midst of my search for an internship, I was excited to see an email from a company that I had just submitted my resume to. I was immediately asked for writing samples from my portfolio. Unfortunately, my portfolio was scattered all over the place and it took a considerable amount of time to find and then format them. I learned the hard way that organizing ahead of time would have saved me a lot of stress and would have made the process a breeze. Learn from my mistakes with this step-by-step guide that will help you stay organized.
- Gather all of your files in one place. Most commonly requested materials include resumes, cover letters, recommendations, writing samples, portfolio and references. Organize them in a folder that is easily accessible on your computer. To increase your effectiveness, try using the free service Dropbox so that you can sync your files across multiple devices (computers, phones, etc.) and access them anywhere.
- Give everything a professional polish. Save each of your files to a .pdf format to make sure your files render in a consistent, easy-to-read format. The .pdf format gives your documents a professional look and will always render to the exact format you publish it in, regardless of the program opening it. Converting a Word, Publisher, or PowerPoint file to a .pdf is easy – after opening the file, go to “Save As” and under the carrot drop-down menu and select “pdf.” Make sure you save a second copy of each file so that you may edit the original, especially your resume.
- Prepare your references. Keep a list handy of reliable two to three references that you know will be happy to testify to your good qualities. Having their contact information current and readily available makes you look organized and prepared when potential employers request it.
Being organized, prepared and prompt are great qualities to demonstrate to potential employers. Keep a list of the companies you apply to so that follow-up will be simple. The list should include:
- The materials you sent (such as which version of your resumes, cover letters, writing samples, etc)
- Whom you sent them to
- The position you applied for
- The date sent
When your materials are in place, it will be a lot easier to respond quickly and make a good impression on potential employers.